Members' Expenses - Office Cost Expenditure
Figures for April 2016 to May 2016 (Pre-election period)
|Name||Office Cost Expenditure - Non Staffing||Office Cost Expenditure - Support Staff Salaries||Office Cost Expenditure - Support Staff Other Costs||Office Cost Expenditure - Total|
|Durkan, Mark H||£1,626.90||£4,873.10||£0.00||£6,500.00|
|Ni Chuilin, Caral||£0.00||£6,500.00||£0.00||£6,500.00|
|Ó hOisín, Cathal||£539.89||£4,849.06||£0.00||£5,388.95|
|Ó Muilleoir, Máirtín||£3,006.33||£3,493.67||£0.00||£6,500.00|
Office Costs Expenditure (OCE) 2016 - 2017
The maximum Office Cost Expenditure (OCE) available for 1 April to 6 May 2016 is £6,500 and is set by the Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) in the Assembly Members (Salaries and Expenses) Determination (Northern Ireland) 2016 (the Determination). However, the criteria for recovering this expenditure is defined by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members’ Salaries, Allowances, Expenses and Pensions Determination March 2012 (as amended). Under the provisions of the 2012 Determination if a Member is in receipt, under any scheme prepared by the Independent Parliamentary Standards authority, of payments or allowances in connection with carrying out duties as a member of the House of Commons, no OCE is allowable.
OCE is paid to meet the expenses incurred by a Member in connection with carrying out his or her Assembly duties. It is not an automatic entitlement paid to a Member by virtue of membership of the Assembly. OCE is only paid to a Member who has actually incurred admissible expenditure.
As its name suggests, OCE is generally used to allow a Member to provide a service to constituents through a constituency office. Items that can be claimed from OCE include office rent and rates, offices utilities (including heating and lighting and telephones), office equipment, office furniture and office consumables. OCE can also be used to allow a Member to engage the services of administrative support staff. OCE cannot be claimed without valid proof of the actual expenses that have been incurred.
Further details regarding OCE can be found in the Financial Support for Members Handbook, published on the NI Assembly website here. ) A full copy of the 2012 Determination can be found on the IFRP website here.
The amount of OCE available is a maximum amount which must not be exceeded. If at any point of time a Member submits an invoice, and there are insufficient funds available to process the invoice, the Member may choose to submit the necessary funds to the Assembly prior to payment being made on his/her behalf. Where a Member makes a contribution these amounts will show as negative amounts on the detailed report, with the description given as “Contribution to ……”. If contributions are made towards support staff costs, these are deducted at source and the published amounts will be the “net” amount after contributions are deducted. Other contributions may be made by Members from time to time – e.g. use of constituency offices for Party meetings or during an election.
The tax date of an invoice determines the financial year in which the expense may be claimed, irrespective of period covered by the invoice. However, expenses which are subject to tax and claimed after 15 April, will not be paid until May and will be charged against the following year.
In the detailed analysis of OCE, it should be noted that where a Member’s name is given as the “Supplier” the payment was made as a reimbursement to the Member for admissible expenditure incurred. If a Member shares an office with another Member it may be possible for one Member to pay the full cost of an invoice and then to claim a reimbursement from his/her colleague for their share of the costs, therefore a Member may show as the supplier in the record of another Member. This may also extend to Petty Cash claims, where one Member holds the account but the costs may relate to all those sharing the premises.
Service charges may include utilities e.g. water, electricity etc. as well as general maintenance and management charges. These charges are included in the lease agreement for the premises.
Members are permitted to use OCE to purchase stationery, prepaid postage envelopes, toners, general office supplies, office equipment etc. for use in their constituency offices and where these items have been purchased from the central Assembly Office Resources department the supplier will be “NI Assembly”.
Members are permitted to use OCE to pay for advertising. Any advert must only contain factual information relating to the Member and details of constituency offices and satellite surgeries. Adverts must be approved by the Finance Office in advance of publication.
Petty cash is used to purchase low cost items, e.g. refreshments, newspapers, office supplies etc. It is not analysed in detail but recoded as ‘petty cash’ expenditure. The maximum that may be processed through petty cash each month is £75.00
Staffing costs are divided into two areas: “Support Staff costs”, which include salaries, Employers NI contributions (ERNIC), overtime, bonuses etc. and “Support Staff Other Costs”, which include, travel, training, etc.
The information held by the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission in relation to the expenditure paid to volunteers from the OCE is regarded as sensitive personal data on political opinion. The Data Protection Act 1998 requires the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission to process this information in accordance with the Data Protection Principles which are set out in Schedule 1 Part 1 of the Act. The first Data Protection Principle requires the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission to process this sensitive personal data fairly and lawfully and requires that at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 of the Act is met before it can publish the information. The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission does not consider that it has met any of the conditions in Schedule 3 which are necessary for publishing this sensitive personal data and is therefore not published.