As millions prepare to double their fuel bills this year, MPs will be protected from the sky-high costs.
That’s because those representing seats outside of London can reclaim the cost of their electricity and gas on expenses.
No fewer than 316 MPs filed a utility claim in 2020-2021, with dozens claiming more than the average double household fuel rate of £1,138.
Analysis of data published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) shows that utility claims in 2019-20 totaled £262,454, of which £206,717 was for gas, electricity and other fuels.
Supreme Plaintiff: Tory MP Danny Kruger with his mother Prue Leith
So how much money can our MPs claim?
Despite years of reform, MPs still enjoy a generous expense system. Those representing seats outside the London area – and not getting grace flats – can reclaim housing costs.
They can choose to stay in hotels when they work in parliament, rent a flat in the capital – or have their houses paid for elsewhere in the country. MPs claiming expenses for their own homes can claim up to £5,480 per year for utility bills, council tax, service charges, telephone lines and internet connections.
Those renting in London have an annual budget of £23,290 which includes utilities and rent, while outside the capital it is £16,320.
As Covid meant fewer MPs stayed away from home, the following year the figures fell to £234,181 for all utilities and £182,983 excluding water.
Dennis Reed of the campaign group Silver Voices said: “This is a horrific example of how politicians are feathering their own nest, while those they are supposed to serve and protect are suffering.
While retirees should endure a drop in living standards because those same politicians voted to lift the triple lock, taxpayers are footing the bill for heating their second home.
“Older citizens will be outraged at this blatant example of ‘one rule for us’ and one for the plebs – £3,000 a year is almost half a year’s state pension.”
Darwin Friend, policy analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “With household bills skyrocketing and the tax burden approaching its 70-year high, people will rightly be concerned that their hard-earned money is being used to isolate MPs from the cost of living crisis.’
While they can no longer claim mortgage payments, parliamentarians can reclaim thousands a year for council taxes, telephone lines, broadband and necessities such as heating and water.
The largest individual utility bill was filed by Tory MP Danny Kruger, son of TV chef Prue Leith. He claimed £3,598 in 2020-21 in six separate claims for electricity at a rented house in a Wiltshire constituency. The previous year he had claimed just £791.
A spokesman for Mr Kruger said: ‘Danny has repeatedly challenged the utility bills with the supplier as they were clearly very high, although within the budget set by Parliament. He couldn’t lower the bills. He has since moved home and his bills are significantly lower this year.”
The second highest was Liam Byrne, the Birmingham Labor MP who was famous for leaving a note admitting that ‘I fear there is no money’ in the treasury. Last year he claimed £3,535 on 12 separate invoices marked ‘dual fuel’.
The previous year he claimed £5,105, of which £1,356 was for water, and in 2018-19 he claimed £2,086 for electricity only. Mr Byrne declined to comment but it is clear he is trying to get a discount.
Several MPs are known to have challenged estimated bills they received during the lockdown when energy companies failed to send meter readers. The third highest was North Dorset Tory Simon Hoare, whose bills were £3,252 in 2020-21, and £3,967 the previous year. Next up was Labor front bencher Yasmin Qureshi, who claimed £2,967 last year and £2,396 before that.
Neither responded to requests for comment.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock last year demanded £2,588 for heating oil at the Suffolk home where he lived with his wife and their three children, before leaving her for an assistant last year.
Edward Leigh’s Lincs’ House
Mel Stride’s house in Devon
A spokesman said: ‘Matt’s constituency in Suffolk is not connected to the grid, so it is heated by oil, which is often more expensive than gas.’
Virginia Crosbie, a former banker who is now a Tory MP, claimed £2,634 last year. She said: ‘I lived and worked on Anglesey during the lockdown in 2020 with my husband and three children. My house is an old farm. At the beginning of the 2021 financial year, I stopped declaring utilities.’
Tory grandee Sir Edward Leigh claimed £2,332 last year and £2,474 the year before.
Welsh Farm: Conservative Former Banker Virginia Crosbie
He said: ‘I have one of the lowest claims of any East Midlands MP as I am not claiming rent or hotel nights. I live in a remote rural area where we rely on heating oil.’
Tory MP Mel Stride claimed £2,347 last year. His office said the claim included both water and energy and spanned 15 months instead of 12.
Attorney General Suella Braverman claimed £2,018 in 2020-21, after £2,684 in bills the previous year. She did not respond to requests for comment.
An IPSA spokesperson said: ‘Non-London MPs have a housing budget to cover the cost of lodging. It can cover rent and bills. If an MP owns the second home, he cannot use the budget for mortgage payments or rent, but he can claim part of the energy costs.’