Milliband Shouldn’t Worry About Energy Bills: The Taxpayer Pays His, After All

 

Over the weekend, several of the biggest newspapers in Britain reported the scandal of the MPs who claim, as a collective, over £200,000 of taxpayer’s money for energy bills in their homes. The Sunday Mirror, who spearheaded the story with their investigation, were quick to point the finger at the Tories as being the biggest culprits, highlighting in particular Nadim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-Upon-Avon, whose own claim of over £5,000 no doubt dropped the jaws of many taxpayers.

But the rank hypocrisy of MPs cozying up without a care for their bill prices is as much a Labour problem as it is for the Conservatives. Even worse, it goes right to the top.

Yesterday, we at The Backbencher retweeted this, taken from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the site set up to encourage transparency over MPs expenses, highlighting the expenses claimed on energy  bills by none other than Labour leader, Ed Milliband. The MP for Doncaster North and leader of the Opposition claimed just under £350 for his energy bills for October to December last year on his expenses.

Coming in just weeks after the Labour Conference where the centrepiece of his speech was focused on countering the rise in energy bills, figures like these suggest that Milliband doesn’t care that energy bills have gone up drastically in price; or, at least, he doesn’t have to care, if the taxpayer has been paying them for him.

What rises out of a little bit of thinking on this point is important for the political future of Britain; if Milliband isn’t worried about energy bills (he is legally entitled to make those expenses claims, of course!), why should we take him seriously on anything he has to say about Britain’s economy?

It isn’t enough that his plan to freeze energy prices for 18 months should he come into power will almost certainly meet disaster for consumers of all economic backgrounds; if he doesn’t have to pay for it , what’s his bother? Or, if he cripples to public pressure and starts paying it, who is to say there shan’t be some other bill or expense claimed for to be picked up by the work forces of Britain, many of whom are rightly terrified of their energy bills rising?

2 COMMENTS

  1. This article conveniently ignore the maths and the huge disparity between a claim of over 5K and one of 350 pounds, so desperate is the author to rubbish Ed Miliband and his perfectly reasonable suggestion to try and limit the profits of the big 6 energy companies. Miliband claimed 350 quid for his energy for a quarter, and this seems to me to be a reasonable amount. The arrangement for all MPs is that they can run a second home at the taxpayer expense, and Miliband’s claims seem proportionate. Anyone can question these overall arrangements (I am in favour of much stricter controls on 2nd homes for MPS, and possibly the creation of a state owned apartments for them), but that’s how things are. Zahawi claimed over 5K and the excesses of this figure is surely the story here, rather than some rather feeble attempt to rubbish Miliband’s suggestions about tackling energy bills. An argument which is itself founded on a falsehood as he (like all other MPs) will pay energy bills at his primary residence and so does have a direct interest in keeping bills down.

  2. I think this article and the whole debate around these sort of expenses rather unfair. If you have a job and that job requires you to travel from Birmingham, say, to London – somewhere you wouldn’t otherwise be going wouldn’t you expect your employer to reimburse you? It’s the same principle for MPs. Ed Miliband is the MP for Doncaster North, nowhere near London but the job of an MP, particularly that of Leader of the Opposition, necessitates that he spends most of his time in London to carry out his duties as an MP to the full. Surely it is right for him to be able to claim, as he can now, expenses for a second home and the bills for this second home as where do you expect him to stay, either whilst he’s in London or in Doncaster. It is of course right that he tries to get the best value for the taxpayer when thinking about the choices he (and any other MP) makes with regard to this, but I don’t think that this is an issue given his energy bill expenses are far, far less than several other MPs.

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