Chancellor claimed on expenses for accountant to do his tax returns

Cabinet members including Alistair Darling, Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears spent £11,000 on tax advice

Labour officials reacted furiously last night after eight Cabinet ministers came under attack for using accountants at public expense to ensure that tax forms on which they declared their office costs were properly filled out.

They included the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, who rented out his London flat when he moved into 11 Downing Street in 2007. The man in charge of the nation’s tax system took professional advice on “the treatment of rental expenses against income” to make sure that there were no discrepancies on his returns. Altogether, he added claims of more than £1,400 for accountancy advice in two years to the office costs which he claimed back from the Fees Office.

The other Cabinet ministers who claimed for accountants’ bills were the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, the Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, the Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband, the Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, the Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell and the International development Secretary Douglas Alexander. The claims totalled more than £11,000.

The latest revelations are published inThe DailyTelegraph today, along with the names of ministers who claimed for the services of media trainers, or bought digital cameras or camcorders and reclaimed the cost from the Fees Office. One of the more bizarre revelations was that a member of staff in the parliamentary office of the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, claimed for two Remembrance Day wreaths. The claim was rejected.

A spokesman said last night that Mr Balls did not know the claim had been put in on his behalf until it had been “rightly” rejected. “Anyone who knows Ed Balls knows that he is neither mean, nor stupid, and you would be both to put in that claim,” he said.

A senior official also angrily denied that the Cabinet ministers who claimed for accountants’ fees had been cheating the public.

“Over the past few days, the Telegraph has been showing up lots of examples where there has been some pretty shoddy account keeping, which in some cases have resulted in money being paid back,” he said. “The Fees Office Green Book specifically states that professional advice is an allowable expense. This is so that MPs do not return inaccurate tax forms.

“This is not for their personal or family finances. It’s specifically for their offce costs, which have to go on their self assessment forms. This is actually about Cabinet minister behaving responsibly and making sure they are honouring their tax liabilities as they should.”

Mr Darling said yesterday: “Like many MPs, I employed an accountant to prepare tax returns for each of the years in question to ensure that the correct amount of tax was paid.”

Three members of the Cabinet claimed for a media trainer to advise them. Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, charged more than £10,000 for advice from Scarlett McGwire, an adviser with long standing links to the Labour Party.

Eight ministers, including Yvette Cooper, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Miss Blears, bought digital cameras or camcorders using their office expenses. Jacqui Smith bought a £240 Apple iPhone for her husband on expenses. He works as her assistant.



News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Analyst - London - £38,000

£30000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Data Analyst - Lon...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester...

IT Support Analyst - London - £22,000

£20000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chel...

Learning Support Assistants-Nantwich area

£8 - £9 per hour: Randstad Education Chester: We are currently recruiting for ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London