MPs spent nearly £40,000 of taxpayers’ money on Apple gadgets after working from home uplift in expenses

Harry YorkeMon, 1 March 2021, 8:01 pm

Apple 
Apple

MPs spent nearly £40,000 of taxpayers’ money on Apple laptops, wireless earphones, iPhones and iPads after they were granted an additional allowance to cover the costs of working from home during the pandemic.

An analysis by The Telegraph of claims published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) shows at least £39,000 was claimed by 40 MPs on Apple equipment during this financial year.

Several MPs made claims for AirPods, a new range of wireless earphones, while others spent more than a thousand pounds purchasing Apple MacBooks and iPads, along with other gadgets.

Due to changes in working arrangements brought about by covid-19 restrictions, IPSA announced last April that MPs would be allowed to spend an extra £10,000 on equipment for themselves and their staff. This comes on top of the £26,000 MPs can claim to cover office costs.

While the claims appear to be in keeping with the watchdog’s rules, last night campaigners hit out at MPs who had chosen to spend taxpayers’ money on top of the range products, arguing that it raised questions as to whether “some members are using the allowance as a personal equipment slush fund.”

The MPs who appear to have claimed the most on Apple technology included Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, who purchased a pair of £249 wireless earphone AirPods, along with £2,000 of additional equipment.

Meanwhile, shadow foreign minister Fabian Hamilton claimed for a £1,069 iPad Pro, a £234 iPad keyboard and an Apple Mouse which cost £59.99. A month later he claimed for an iPhone costing £1,049 and an Apple MacBook Pro for £1,299 in July.

Mr Hamilton was previously caught up in the expenses scandal in 2009, after The Telegraph revealed he had declared his mother’s London house as his main residence while over-charging the taxpayer by thousands of pounds for a mortgage on his family home in Leeds.https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZWH0ang_fBU?enablejsapi=1&modestbranding=1&origin=http://www.telegraph.co.uk&rel=0

A senior Labour MP said of Mr Hamilton and Ms Rayner: “We all claim, but you’ve got to judge what you do it for. People have got to be cleaner than clean on this stuff.”

Geraint Davies, the Labour MP for Swansea East, also spent £3,975 on Apple equipment between April and July, while Barry Gardiner, the former shadow international trade secretary, claimed £1,748 for an iPad, £131 for an Apple pencil and £349 for a keyboard for the device.

Damien Moore, the Conservative MP for Southport, spent £2,598 on Apple equipment in May, while Jacob Young, the Tory MP for Redcar, spent £1,940.

A number of ministers are among those to have made claims, although their expenses are lower than the highest spenders.

Responding last night, John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “No doubt all of this spending will be shown to be ‘within the rules’. But these MPs should be asking themselves if expensive Apple products are remotely necessary when there are much cheaper alternatives.

“With the economy and public finances in such dire straits, limiting their expenses claims would be a welcome way for MPs to show that we’re all in it together.”

A spokesman for Ms Rayner said that “all expenses for the running of Angela’s parliamentary office were submitted in line with the rules”, as did Mr Hamilton’s office, which added that the additional allowance had “been absolutely vital in enabling MPs’ staff to carry out their important duties remotely.”

Mr Davies said that the expenses had been claimed on three laptops for staff working from home, adding that it was “important that they have the right tools to do the best job for people in need during such traumatic times.”

Mr Young said he had made “one-off purchases” while he was setting up his office after being elected in 2019, adding that the equipment was for professional use “to carry out my responsibilities to my constituents.”

“It will be used for many years to come and I always endeavour to keep my expenses as low as possible,” he continued.

Mr Moore and Mr Gardiner did not respond to requests for comment.

Approached for comment, IPSA said: “In response to the coronavirus pandemic IPSA introduced new measures to help MPs’ offices continue to work, including a one-off additional budget for their office costs. All their office costs were accounted for as usual.

“Most MPs’ staff moved at very short notice from being based in Westminster, or in a constituency office, to working from home and needed to be set up for supporting constituents remotely. The additional budget was to help them move to home working while they dealt with a huge increase in workload from distressed constituents as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis.”