The office of north Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter has defended the MP’s decision to give his mother, who works as his office manager in London, a pay rise during times of public sector pay freezes.
He is one of 150 MPs who employ members of their own families, as detailed in latest figures released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).
The junior health minister’s mother, Carol Poulter, has a salary at a pay band rate of between £35,000 and £39,999 and was recently given a £1,500 pay rise.
Mr Poulter’s parliamentary assistant Adam Burt, working from the MP’s Suffolk constituency office, said Mrs Poulter had worked for her son since soon after he became an MP. She had considerable previous experience working for other MPs and took a pay reduction to join her son’s office.
“She does a lot more than an office manager,” Mr Burt said. “The office has reduced the number of staff and she has taken on extra work.” He added Mr Poulter’s role as a health minister since September 2012 had also created extra work for the office.
IPSA was set up in the wake of the MPs’ expenses scandal in 2009 to monitor how much was claimed in personal costs and running offices.
Its recently-released figures show three of the four Norfolk and Suffolk MPs who have constituencies in the Diss Express area claimed over £50,000 each in expenses in 2012/13.
The claims cover travel and hotel accommodation or rent when staying in London, as well as various office costs, but salaries for their staff members are paid from the public purse. MPs can charge staffing costs up to the value of £137,200 (for MPs outside London).
Dr Poulter’s expenses claim for 2012/13 totalled £52,885.76, plus a staffing payroll of £123,213.63 including the salary paid to his mother.
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon claimed expenses of £53,775.92, with a staff payroll of £112,159.63.
Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley claimed £55,123.99 in expenses and £98,824.37 in staff salaries, while South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss claimed staff salaries of £111,771.31 and the lowest of expenses claimed by the four local MPs at £27,353.73.
IPSA figures show that expenses rose from £91.5million in 2011/12 to £98million for 2012/13, with the number of MPs employing family members rising by nearly a fifth.