Minister for ‘common sense’ claims thousands in rent - despite MP husband owning flat nearby

Minister tasked with indentifying wasteful government spending bills taxpayer for more than £30,000 in rent

Matt Mathers
Thursday 21 March 2024 21:01 GMT
Esther McVey launches Ladies for Leave

A government minister tasked with identifying wasteful spending has been charging the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds in expenses to rent a flat in London despite her fellow MP husband owning a property nearby.

Esther McVey has over the past two years received more than £30,000  in taxpayers’ money to rent the flat where she lives with her husband Phillip Davies, the MP for Shipley.

Ms McVey, who represents Tatton and was last year appointed minister for ‘common sense’, is paid £86,584 for being an MP but will be earning thousands of pounds more from her additional role as Cabinet Office minister without portfolio.

She and her husband have been claiming expenses on a property in Westminster since 2017, according to The Daily Telegraph and campaign group Led By Donkeys.

Esther McVey, the so-called minister for common sense, has criticised wasteful government spending (PA Wire)

According to the report, Mr Davies owns a property in Waterloo, which is about a 25-minute walk away. The property is rented out and the MP  has declared an annual income of more than £10,000 from this property.

Mr Davies, who has also earned thousands of pounds from media work over the past two years, said he would have been happy to continue claiming mortgage costs on the flat he owns, “but that option was removed from me”.

MPs can no longer claim their mortgage payments back from the taxpayer following changes to the rules in the aftermath of the 2009 expenses scandal.

The couple is not breaking any rules but their arrangement raises questions about value for money, particularly given Ms McVey’s role at the top of government in charge of tacking wasteful spending.

Ms McVey’s husband is Philip Davies MP (m)

Ms McVey, a self-declared low-tax Thatcherite who often rails against the ‘big state’, wrote in the Daily Mail last year that she did not “want you to see a single penny of your hard-earned cash wasted on unnecessary public spending”.

Her duties as Cabinet Office minister without portfolio include delivery of government priorities and ensuring effective communication of Downing Street’s objectives.

Ms McVey, who previously served as secretary of state for work and pensions from January to November 2018, also earned thousands of pounds for media work.

In February she told GB News she had written to independent government agencies asking them to spend more efficiently.

“We want to make sure there isn’t any waste … You can’t put up taxpayers’ bills and ask the government for more money, and yet not get rid of wasteful spending yourself,” she said.

Mr Davies told Led By Donkeys: “If I owned the flat outright and I could stay there without incurring any cost then I would agree that I should do that, but that doesn’t remotely apply in my case.

“As far as I am aware, all workplaces cover the accommodation costs of people working away from home, and I am surprised … [you] … think that should no longer be the case. That, of course, will lead to only the wealthiest people in the country being able to become MPs.”

Ms McVey has been contacted for comment.

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