1. ‘Flipping’ their addresses: MP nominates London property as “second” home, charges the taxpayer for furniture and refurbishment, then nominates constituency home so they can do up that one too.
2. Climbing the property ladder: MP renovates property courtesy of taxpayer, sells it on at a profit, then buys another property, renovates it, sells it and so on.
3. Council tax reduction: MP claims full rate of council tax on “second” home, paid by the taxpayer, then claims discounted rate on their other home, paid by themselves, by telling council this is their “second” home.
4. March madness: MPs who haven’t claimed the maximum permissible allowance during the financial year go on spending sprees in March to “use up” the remainder of their allowance before April deadline.
5. Last-minute repairs: Splashing out thousands on renovations just before stepping down as an MP in order to maximise profits when second home is sold.
6. Capital gains tax avoidance: Although second homes are subject to capital gains tax for the general public, MPs can avoid paying this when they sell their second home by claiming it is, in fact, their main home.
7. Claiming for the ‘wrong’ address: Although MPs are supposed to nominate the home where they spend the least time as their “second” home, some claim their main family home as their second property, so that the taxpayer foots their large household bills, while their “main” home is a cheap rented room in a friend’s house in London or their constituency.
8. Long-distance shopping: MP buys large household goods, such as beds, wardrobes and armchairs, and has them delivered to constituency home, then claims they took them to their London home at a later date. Parliamentary officials rarely, if ever, question whether they are telling the truth about where the furniture ended up.
9. Maxing out: Until recently, MPs did not have to submit receipts for claims under £250, so many claim for £249 worth of cleaning, repairs or other services without having to provide any proof of what it cost them.
10. Binge eaters: MP claims the maximum £400 food allowance for every month of the year, even during the recess when they are unlikely to be away from their main home.
All this is apparently within the rules (these being the rules that MPs made for themselves).
While some MPs are no doubt honest upstanding public servants, others are more concerned with getting their snouts in the trough. To decide which is which, I suggest all MPs’ expenses should be published in full, then each MP’s constituents get to decide how much, if anything, is invalid, and the MP has to pay back that amount. If they haven’t got the money to pay back the full amount, then they can be set to work clearing up litter while wearing high-visibility jackets labelled “COMMUNITY PAYBACK”.