London’s “fashionable South Bank”

I have never thought of my gaff in the Elephant and Castle as being in a fashionable part of London – though I personally like the area, and I think it is underrated (and hence relatively cheap, considering how central it is).

But I see from this article in The Observer that, unbeknownst to me, I in fact live on the fringe of a fashionable part of the city.  Gaby Hinsliff and Conal Walsh criticize Sean Woodward for using his MP’s allowance to pay for an appartment "London’s fashionable South Bank".  What is bizarre is that there is no suggestion that Mr Woodward has done anything wrong: he has used his additional cost allowance for exactly the purpose for which it is intended (defraying the costs of a London home that an MP needs to do his or her job) and the article admits that he has claimed no more than he is entitled to.  But Ms Hinsliff, the utterly useless political editor of the Observer, seems to think that because Mr Woodward is rich, he should forgo claiming these allowances.

6 thoughts on “London’s “fashionable South Bank””

  1. I couldn’t agree less. There’s no presumption that an MP should claim this allowance, regardless of whether he or she needs the money – as Woodward clearly doesn’t. He may be remaining within the letter of the arrangement, but he’s abusing its spirit.

  2. Phil

    Do you also think that MPs who are wealthy should not claim their salaries?  

    The guidance on ACA says: 

    The Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) reimburses Members with constituencies outside inner London of expenses incurred in staying overnight away from home whilst performing parliamentary duties.

    Nothing there about it being means-tested.  Why should Sean Woodward not claim it?


  3. In answer to your first (rhetorical?) question – well, yes, since you mention it. Originally MPs weren’t paid a salary, presumably on the basis that eminent gents would take it on as a public service. Obviously I favour MPs getting paid as a general rule, but I favour it precisely because it widens the social base of Parliament. But – given that the job is a public service – I don’t see any pressing reason for MPs to be rich, or to receive a rich person’s salary. The Militant Tendency used to have a policy that ‘their’ Labour MPs would claim only the average skilled manual wage rather than the full MPs’ salary; they only ever had one MP (Dave Nellist), but as far as I’m aware he abided by it. A fortiori, someone who already disposes of income equivalent or superior to the average ditto – as I’m sure Woodward does – has no need for <b>any</b> income from Parliament.<p>As for the guidance on ACA, an argument could be made that Woodward doesn’t qualify in the first place, given that his primary home isn’t actually in his constituency. More to the point, for most of us claiming the maximum allowed – even if we wouldn’t otherwise have been out of pocket – is regarded as a form of fiddling. It may not be in breach of the rules, but that’s not to say that we’d get away with doing it – or that Woodward should. 

  4. Phil

    As ever, you have very interesting and unusual views.  Does your proposal also apply to civil servants? Should those who are independently wealthy decline their salaries or expenses? And what about other public servants, like doctors or teachers: should they only draw a salary if they really need it?

    Is this view limited to public servants? What about company chief executives: should they only claim legitimate business expenses if they really need the money?

    Claiming the maximum allowed if the expenditure exceeds the maximum (as it does in this case) seems perfectly proper to me.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *