Members' Expenditure 2020 - 2021
Expenses from April 2020 - December 2020
|Name||Status||Constituency Office Expenses 1 |
|Other Expenses 2 |
|Staff cost 4|
|Durkan, Mark H||1||£9,324.25||£0.00||£4,612.50||£53,404.01||£67,340.76|
|Kimmins Elizabeth (Liz)||1||£402.26||£0.00||£3,974.94||£61,877.75||£66,254.95|
|Ni Chuilin, Caral||1||£7,700.28||£0.00||£637.47||£54,074.18||£62,411.93|
Member - 1
Resigned - 2
Co-opted - 3
Members’ expenses continue to be provided for under the legislative framework of the Assembly Members (Salaries and Expenses) Determination 2016 (as amended), determined by the Independent Financial Review Panel (the Panel) in March 2016. During 2019-20 a number of other provisions were also temporarily in place, however the provisions of the 2016 Determination were fully restored following the appointment of an Executive on 11 January 2020.
The tenure of the first Panel finished in July 2016 and as a consequence of the Commission’s desire to consider a reform of the Panel and the political situation between March 2017 and January 2020, a new Panel has not been appointed. Following the appointment of a new Assembly Commission in February 2020, work to reform the Panel re-commenced. As part of this work, a motion was brought to the Assembly on 30 June 2020 to confer powers on the Assembly Commission to determine allowances payable to Members.
Using these new powers the Assembly Commission published the Assembly Members (Salaries and Expenses) (Amendment) Determination (Northern Ireland) 2020 on 27 August 2020. This Determination was brought forward to ensure that Members can legitimately purchase basic items to help deliver services to constituents and to ensure that the terms and conditions of employment for support staff are fair and reasonable and in line with those offered within the context of the wider public sector. Amending a number of key provisions within the 2016 Determination the changes were effective from 1 April 2020. However, amendments to paragraph 14, relating to the recovery of rent and rates and the display of signage, were backdated to May 2016.
For administrative purposes and to enable new reporting structures to become embedded, the expenditure already processed for April – September has not been reanalysed or re-classified to reflect the new categories of expenditure permitted under the 2016 Determination (as amended).
A number of key criteria remain unchanged. The recovery of expenses can only be sought for costs that have been actually incurred by a Member in connection with exercising their functions as a Member and the payment of expenses to a connected person, continues to be prohibited. Members do not have an automatic entitlement to expenses or allowances, by virtue of their membership of the Assembly, and a number of admissibility tests must be fulfilled.
The original 2016 Determination limited the recovery of expenses to one constituency office; however, this limitation was removed from 1 April 2020. From 1 April 2020 the restriction on Members recovering an expense in respect of a payment to a person resident or registered at a place outside the European Union was also removed.
1 Constituency Office Expenses (COE) 2019 – 2020
As its name suggests, COE is generally used to allow a Member to provide a service to constituents through a constituency office. Items that can be claimed from COE include office rent and rates, office utilities (including heating and lighting and telephones), office cleaning, office equipment, office furniture and office consumables (excluding the cost of photocopiers, fax machines cameras, televisions, radios and computer equipment), office signage and insurance. COE cannot be claimed without valid proof of the actual expenses incurred.
From 1 April 2020 the amount of COE available is £7,000 annum (pro rata) for Constituency Office Operating Expenses (which now includes mobile phones), £8,500 per annum (pro rata) for rent and £4,000 per mandate for Constituency Office Establishment Expenses (which also includes costs of refurbishing or maintaining an existing office). Rates may be recovered in full. However, where a lease agreement is entered into and the rental payments for a year are in excess of the maximum amount of rent allowable, a limit is applied.
The tax date of an invoice determines the financial year in which the expense may be claimed, irrespective of period covered by the invoice.
In the detailed analysis of COE, 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 all costs must be split equally and the Member may only recover expenses which relate to that Member. However, one Member may pay the whole invoice and receive the reimbursement and the cost will be spilt when the claim is processed, therefore recording the name of one Member as a supplier in the record of another Member.
Members are permitted to use COE to purchase pre-paid envelopes, stationery, envelopes, toners, general office supplies, small 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”.
Up to 27 August 2020, Sundry Constituency Office Operating Expenses of up to £100 per month could be claimed. This provision was removed from that date. Under the original 2016 Determination Members were not required to maintain records of these payments. Receipts however, could be provided, in which case reimbursement was made directly to the Member or to a member of support staff, where the support staff had incurred the expenditure on behalf of the Member. In the absence of receipts the reimbursement was processed through payroll and the usual deductions for tax and national insurance were made. Payments made through payroll are be recorded as ‘Taxable Sundry Expenses’. In general, expenses were those assorted, miscellaneous, small, varied or infrequent operating costs incurred in running an office. In all cases, the Member had to sign a declaration stating that the expenditure was incurred in accordance with the requirements of the Determination.
2 Other Expenses
This includes recall expenditure and disability allowance.
Winding Up Expenditure (WUE)
This is paid to a former Member to allow him or her to bring their Assembly business to an orderly close. It includes office costs, rent and rates. It is capped at £4,500 for the three-month period following a Member’s departure from the Assembly. The expenditure has not been recovered from any other person, nor has the former Member been reimbursed in relation to the expense by any other person.
From time to time a programme of assurance reviews will be carried out on expenditure incurred by Members across a number of categories. Where any expense is found to be inadmissible under the terms of the Determination, recoupment will be sought from the Member and will be published under the description “Recovery of Inadmissible Expenses”
Two types of allowances are paid, (1) Annual Constituency Travel Allowance and (2) Annual Assembly Travel Allowance. The amounts payable depends on the constituency represented by the Member. The travel allowances are taxable and paid to the Member through payroll. Some Members may choose to defer receiving the monthly allowance of Annual Assembly travel, preferring to receive a payment based on their declared attendance at Parliament buildings at the end of the financial year. Travel for other reasons e.g. committee work may be incurred and payment is based on a calculation of excess mileage. Such payments are not included in these allowances but are instead borne by the Assembly Commission.
Assembly Travel Allowance is payable for attendance at Parliament Buildings and Members have to attend 72 days or more to receive the full amount.
Allowance were own property is used as constituency office
Where a Member’s own property is used as a constituency office, an allowance of £2,000 may be claimed. In these circumstances, COE (see above) may not be claimed. In order to claim this allowance all other criteria relating to signage etc must be met.
Resettlement allowance is paid to Members, who resign at the dissolution of the NI Assembly or are not returned following an election, once their office has been wound up. Ill health payment is made to Members who resign on the grounds of ill-health. They do not receive resettlement allowance. Other Members who resign during the mandate do not receive either allowance.
4 Staffing Costs
Staffing costs are divided into four categories:
Category 1 - staff salaries (including contractual and statutory maternity, paternity, and adoption pay; statutory shared parental pay; contractual and statutory sick pay; payments made to a temporary work agency in respect of the salary of an agency worker; and staff costs associated with home working arrangements);
Category 2 - other capped staff costs (including training, recruitment and support staff travel costs);
Category 3 - ancillary staff costs (including employers’ contributions to national insurance, pension contributions, statutory redundancy payments, temporary work agency fees and charges associated with the engagement of agency workers via a temporary work agency, and employer’s liability insurance); and
Category 4 - replacement staff costs (including those costs incurred in temporarily employing a person to replace an employee where the employee is absence for a continuous period of at least four weeks by reason of illness, maternity leave, paternity leave or adoption leave).
Category 1 costs are limited to £80,000 per year (pro rata). Staff must be employed on one of the three defined pay scales, and be engaged on the specified terms and conditions outlined in the Schedule to the 2016 Determination (as amended). Staff must be employed on merit following a fair and open recruitment competition.
Category 2 costs are capped. A maximum of £1,500 may be claimed each year for training costs and a limit of £500 per recruitment competition applies. Support staff travel costs are capped depending on which Constituency the Member represents.
Category 3 costs are unlimited.
Category 4 costs are not capped, however, they may only continue to be claimed as long as the employee who is absent continues to be paid the appropriate recoverable salary.