Former PM Brown blasted over expenses claims

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been criticised after it emerged he has claimed over two hundred thousand pounds in parliamentary expenses since 2011.
 
The Labour MP claimed £215,000 of taxpayers cash in addition to his salary and expenses for being a sitting MP, despite not attending parliament for almost 90 per cent of the time.

While MPs’ expenses are subject to scrutiny by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), claims under the Public Duties Cost Allowance are not published.  The amount of public cash claimed by the former Prime Minister emerged after Pete Wishart MP submitted a parliamentary question to the Minster for the Cabinet Office asking how much public money has been paid to each former Prime Minister in each year since 2010.

From 2011-2012, Brown received £114,998.17 in public money as Duties Costs.  In 2012-2013 the Labour MP was paid £100,315.68.  The reimbursement allowance is paid to meet the costs of continuing to fulfil public duties associated with the role of a former prime minister, similar amounts were also paid to Tony Blair, John Major and Margaret Thatcher.

By comparison, former First Ministers of Scotland receive no Public Duties payments.
 
Commenting, Mr Wishart said:
 
“This is absolutely shocking -the public have a right to know what this money is being spent on.
 
“Gordon Brown has claimed over £215,000 since 2011 despite being a sitting MP.  As long as former prime ministers draw on taxpayer-funded allowances their claims should be open to scrutiny.  Taxpayers have a right to know how this money is being spent and claims should be regularly published.
 
“To add insult to injury, Gordon Brown has even referred to himself as an “ex-politician” despite being an elected MP.  He has failed to represent his constituents in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath in the House of Commons by only turning up to 13.3 % of divisions since 2010.”

Since losing the 2010 general election and stepping down as leader of the Labour party, Gordon Brown has come under fire over his lack of appearances at the House of Commons.  The MP, who represents Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath, has jokingly referred to himself as an “ex-politician” as he has undertaken a series of lectures around the globe.

In January this year Brown was accused of avoiding paying tax on lucrative income he earns as a public speaker by “funnelling” the up-to $100,000 he can command for a single speech.

All of Brown’s payments go to a company called ‘The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown’, which was set up by his wife after Brown left Downing Street.  Described as a vehicle to help fund his charity work by the former PM, it is actually a private limited company.

According to the company website, “All the money received by the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown goes either directly to charities like Theirworld for children’s causes, and the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory which supports medical research into pregnancy and neonatal research to save newborn lives, or to support other charitable and public service projects.”

However figures disclosed by the Labour MP himself have revealed that less than a third of the three and a half million pounds paid into the company has gone to deserving causes, with the bulk being spent on the company itself which includes first class travel and hotel expenses for Brown and his wife.

The company website states that annual running costs amounts to over half a million pounds.

According to the Guido Fawkes blog, Brown has declared to parliament that the total amount paid to the company since 2010 is £3,605,197.  According to a recent announcement on the company’s website, only £912,702 has so far been given to charity after three years.   This leaves over £2 million to be accounted for when according to the latest available records the company had only £160,978 in cash at the bank.