Expenses watchdog eases rules after MPs' complaints

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The commons expenses watchdog is simplifying some of the rules about claims from MPs.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said the changes would provide a "sensible, pragmatic evolution" of the way it administers expenses claims.

The move follows complaints from some MPs who say they have been left out of pocket since new rules came into place earlier this year.

The new system was introduced in the wake of the expenses scandal last year. Ipsa announced "simplifications" in three areas, as well as a review of the current regime, inviting submissions from MPs and the public.

The changes, taking effect from November, will extend the use of special credit cards which currently pay for travel, to allow MPs to use them to pay their council tax and utility bills.

In addition, Ipsa will pay MPs' landlords directly upon receipt of and agreement to their tenancy agreements. The watchdog will also make payments for items over £200 on receipt of an invoice, providing it is within the rules.

Andrew McDonald, interim chief executive of Ipsa, said: "Following the creation of Ipsa last year, we have had to work with great speed to set the rules and establish robust means to implement them. It has not been easy or straightforward, but we are meeting that challenge.

"In doing so, we have learnt a great deal along the way. We want to use that experience to make the process easier for MPs and to deliver efficiency savings for the taxpayer, while maintaining the scrutiny of MPs' expenses which was called for by the public."

Sir George Young, Leader of the House of Commons, said: "I welcome Ipsa's statement. It recognises the legitimate concerns of MPs and provides some constructive and commonsense solutions."