MPs rack up £3.2m expenses in two months

MPs were paid more than £3.2 million of taxpayer-funded expenses in the first two months of this year - and have racked up £880,000 on official payment cards.

Almost 25,000 claims were submitted for January and February - but 84 MPs were refused a total of £4,633 they asked for by the independent regulator.

Among them, the latest figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) show, was Education Secretary Michael Gove.

He was denied £7.50-worth of ineligible calls from a phone bill.

Ipsa also disclosed for the first time the sums being put on payment cards issued to MPs - which were originally designed just to pay for travel.

The rules were relaxed amid politicians' protests and they can now use them to settle bills for business rates, council tax bills and certain utility bills.

Around 10,000 such transactions have now been made by 378 MPs.

The total payments for the start of this year were the same as for the last two months of 2010 but the bill is set to rise significantly when future figures are published.

In a series of concessions to soothe MPs furious about the system introduced in the wake of the Westminster pay and perks scandal, Ipsa is now allowing them to spend more.

The controversial changes were announced in March after angry complaints from across parties that the system created in the wake of the expenses scandal is too restrictive and bureaucratic.

Ipsa has refused to estimate how much the changes would cost the taxpayer, saying it would depend on what MPs decided to claim.

The extra staff spending for 650 MPs could potentially reach £3.25 million, and the accommodation bill is likely to rise by hundreds of thousands of pounds.