Monday, 4 November 2013

MP claims £5.8k for Energy Bills while people cannot afford to cook Foodbank Parcels..

The Sunday Mirror published a table of 340 MPs claiming energy expenses for their 2nd home. Most of us ordinary voters view this 2 ways: We understand those MPs not living within commuting distance of London may need accommodation and a reasonable energy bill of under £1,000 could be expected  OR - All MPs should fund 2nd homes from their own pocket. Full Stop.

But after having viewed the top 10 claimants, and then the bottom 10 of the 340, it became clear immediately there is a huge disparity in claims between Tory MP Nadhim Zawhawi claiming an obscene £5.8k and Nic Dakin (Lab) claiming £19.54. As elected members of parliament the huge amounts over £1k, in my view need challenging , explaining and reforming immediately.

Nadhim Zahawi is a millionaire with a £5m first home. Why on earth is the energy bill for his 2nd home coming to £5.8k? I always (perhaps naively) presumed an MPs 2nd home would be a modest 1 bedroom flat. After all, this flat is purely for business purposes Monday -Thursday for an MP to conduct his business in London and not have to commute back to his constituency. I would say though that Mr Zawawi's constituency in Stratford-Upon-Avon is within commutable distance. Many people in my hometown of Worcester commute daily to London which is only 40 miles from Stratford.

So my question to Mr Zawhawi is what type of accommodation are we funding to warrant a £5.8k energy bill? Not a 1 bed flat! This amount is even more obscene as it is a hefty £2k MORE than what a person who becomes unemployed gets to live on in an ENTIRE year!

Meanwhile a Facebook post from my local Foodbank revealed problems with an increasing amount of food parcels. Many people are telling them they have no means to cook or heat food and are asking for any food that does not need cooking. Indeed the Foodbank has asked anyone who has a spare camping stove to please donate it, so people at least have the means to heat food from tins. Emergency supplies have seen parcels made up of ready made sandwiches and a thermos flask of soup. The Foodbank is worried as problems with people not affording to be able to turn on an energy supply are escalating rapidly. Not being able to cook food, means the Foodbank has to find other ready made solutions. It goes against their ethos of a "hand up -not a hand out" which is troubling them. It means consistent support and developing more reliance on the Foodbank rather than a time when benefits are stopped for whatever reason, but the person then gets on their feet within a few weeks once benefits are restored.

So while Foodbanks cope with these dire and desparate energy problems we see blatant Robber Barons, millionaires who could afford to heat a whole street if they had to, then claim an amount of money to heat their 2nd home which is more than what many people live on in a year. It is not just obscene, abhorrent and morally bankrupt, but it is a system that needs reform right now. The BBC are broadcasting a series "Britain on the Fiddle" this week. Well start at the top. Look no further than a  Tory MPs £5.8k expense claim for energy, while people are unable to heat their homes or cook their food.

As to reform? MPs living up to an 80-100 mile commute of London do not need a 2nd home at all. Give them a small allowance to conduct business in their own home. For those living further away, and I have every admiration for the MPs from the north making the tortuous journey down to London every week, a 1 bedroom flat is sufficient or perhaps modest hotel expenses could be looked at. You would be saving money on MPs like David Amess who has 2 London homes yet thought he had the moral high ground in claiming £8k hotel expenses says the Daily Mirror.

MPs will be crawling around us next year, desparate for our votes. Challenge your MP if he is on the list of the big sinners claiming £1k or more energy expenses. Ask your MP how big their 2nd home is. Tell them of your situation whether you are disabled, unemployed, elderly or Working Poor and how you are struggling and find excessive claims for 2nd home expenses is plain wrong.

Austerity cannot continue to carry on, on the backs of the poor although the Coalition have done a hatchet job in that respect. Time to challenge MPs on every cost of living expense for their 2nd home. Do not let it drop. Name and shame those who are clearly rubbing the noses of their constituents and voters in the mud. An ordinary MP earns £66k, let alone those who are ministers. We have to fund our own overpriced energy costs, so why don't they?