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.



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced marketeer is req...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager - Enterprise, M2M & IOT Hardware

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager - Enterprise, M2M & IOT Hardware

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Food Production / Operations Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a large and well ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas