MP defends expenses - News - Manchester Evening News
CABINET minister James Purnell has defended his use of MPs' allowances after claims he puts grocery bills of up to £400 a month on expenses.
The Work and Pensions Secretary, who represents Stalybridge and Hyde, is the latest MP criticised for his use of tax-free second home allowances.
Leaked documents allegedly reveal that even though Mr Purnell earns £142,000 a year, he charges the taxpayer for the food he eats.
A spokesman for the politician said that Mr Purnell had not done anything against the rules and supported the reform of the allowances system.
It is alleged Mr Purnell, 39, has clawed back £9,094 he has spent on groceries in five years.
Some months, he is said to have claimed the maximum amount of £400 for food - double the amount that unemployed youngsters receive from the benefits system that he presides over.
And since he was elected in 2001, his second home, in Islington, London, has cost the public more than £145,000 in utility, council tax bills, fixtures, fittings and cleaning.
His spokesman said: "We have no intention of commenting on leaked documents, but are confident all claims are within Commons guidelines and have been approved - nor is there any allegation that they weren't."
The allowances system is intended to compensate MPs for the costs of staying away from their main home on Parliamentary business. Grocery claims are controversial, since they would have to buy food even if they only had one home.
Why pick on Purnell? Because of his repeated attacks on people who are genuinely incapacitated, and his use of Tory David Freud's report to smear people who are disabled.
He is 39 and single, and yet claims more per week (c. £100) for food alone than people who are on long term disability actually get to do everything (£86).