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
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence