September 1 2014 Latest news:
by John Phillips , Senior Reporter
Friday, September 7, 2012
The MP for Barking defended her expenses claims today after figures showed they exceeded the average in the House of Commons.
Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, claimed £158,771 in the last full financial year, up from £104,370 the previous year, after moving to more prominent offices in New Road.
Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking, spent £151,279, up from £128,646 the previous year.
The average for MPs across the country was £137,000.
The two MPs’ claims were also higher than the average claimed by parliamentarians in neighbouring east London constituencies - which worked out at around £132,000.
Mr Cruddas said his claims had increased after moving from an office in Church Elm Lane, Dagenham, to the more prominent New Road location.
He said: “I had some extra support for staffing from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority last year because of the volume of casework. Every penny directed into support for constituents.
“People want to know where money goes. The IPSA has a good system. The expenses relate to running a large office in Dagenham, dealing with local residents’ concerns.
“We are based on New Road and rent is about £12,000 a year and the rest of the expenses cover postage, phones, stationary etc.”
Mrs Hodge chairs the House of Commons public accounts committee, which scrutinises government expenditure.
She said: “We do need resources to support our work – my office receives more than 100 letters and emails a week from people who need my help.
“The vast majority of my money goes on employing the staff I need to provide a good service.
“MPs are funded by the taxpayer and we have a duty to use that money responsibly – particularly at a time when our constituents are having to be careful with every penny they spend.
“People should feel they get value for money out of us. I work as hard as possible to make sure that people in the borough feel they get value from the work I do.”
Figures published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority this month showed the 650 MPs in Westminster had collectively claimed £89.4million or £137,538 per parliamentarian in 2011/12.
A couple who subjected their neighbours to a year of racist abuse after claiming the smell of curry was making their cat ill could face jail.
A new social media app aimed at getting more young people into creative writing is about to launch in Barking.
A longstanding member of a neighbouring council claims Barking and Dagenham has serious questions to answer over the state of its youth offending services.