BURTON’S MP has blasted ‘outrageous’ failings in the parliamentary expenses body after it failed to notice he had accidentally submitted a duplicate claim.
Andrew Griffiths only noticed the oversight by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) when the claim for almost £500 for a hotel stay and mobile phone bill was paid into his bank account twice.
Mr Griffiths said it was ‘outrageous’ that the IPSA, set up in 2009 in response to the MPs’ expenses scandal, had a system which he said was ‘less sophisticated than most small businesses’ and relied on MPs’ honesty.
Mr Griffiths told the Mail: “By accident I submitted the same receipts twice and I only realised the mistake when I noticed an extra £500 had gone into my bank account.
“Even though they were the same companies, same dates, same invoice numbers and same amounts of money, they still paid the bill.
“It’s only when I turned up at IPSA’s plush offices that they realised they had paid me twice.
“They admitted the system was not sophisticated enough to identify a double claim and that it has to be run by trusting MPs.
“It’s hard to believe we’ve gone though the whole scandal of MPs claiming for duck houses and moats and mortgages that don’t exist and yet we’ve still got a system which relies on trusting members.
It’s outrageous that after everything that’s happened and the £6 million of taxpayers’ money spent on IPSA, to administer the expenses of just 650 people, we have an expenses system that is less sophisticated than those of the vast majority of small businesses in Burton.“It’s outrageous that after everything that’s happened and the £6 million of taxpayers’ money spent on IPSA, to administer the expenses of just 650 people, we have an expenses system that is less sophisticated than those of the vast majority of small businesses in Burton.
“Clearly there are still a lot of lessons to be learned.
“I discovered this by accident but if someone wanted to exploit the system they could do.” Mr Griffiths raised the matter in Parliament and will now liaise with leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young, who is carrying out a review into the operation of the expenses body.
Honesty to be praised
AT a time when households across Burton struggle to make ends meet, the news that the body in charge of parliamentary expenses failed to notice Burton’s MP had accidentally submitted a duplicate claim will surely not go down well.
Andrew Griffiths described the situation as ‘outrageous’ after a £500 claim for a hotel stay and mobile phone was paid twice.
This is an astonishing and damning indictment of a system that was set up in the wake of the major expenses scandal that rocked the country in 2009.
It clearly shows that something that relies on MPs’ honesty is open to abuse. Plaudits should fall on our MPs’ shoulders for his good and honest nature in the way he swiftly reported the error.
But what is even more shocking is that when Mr Griffiths approached staff to raise the issue, they freely admitted that the system could not recognise this kind of problem and it still relied on being able to trust MPs.
What is evident is that there are a lot of lessons to be learned and the ordinary person on the street will not take kindly knowing how easy this kind of problem has arisen.
It can only be hoped that other MPs are as honest and credible as our own Andrew Griffiths if a mistake is made.