Members' Expenditure 2017 - 2018 (April 2017 - February 2018)
Under the provisions of Part 2 of the Assembly Members’ (Salaries and Expenses) Determination (Northern Ireland) 2016 (the 2016 Determination), 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. It is not an automatic entitlement paid to a Member, by virtue of their membership of the Assembly. The 2016 Determination limits the recovery of expenses to one constituency office only and prevents the payment of expenses to a connected person.
1Constituency Office Expenses (COE) 2017 - 2018
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.
The amount of COE available is £4,900per annum (pro rata) for Operating costs, £8,500 per annum (pro rata) for rent and £2,000 per mandate for Establishment Expenditure (which also includes costs of refurbishment of existing offices). These are maximum amounts which must not be exceeded. Rates may also be claimed; however, payments are capped at 40% of rent expenses recovered in any one year.
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.
Members are permitted to use COE to purchase 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”.
Sundry expenditure of up to £100 per month may be claimed without receipts and is generally paid to the Member, however it may be paid directly to a member of support staff where the support staff has incurred the expenditure on behalf of the Member. In all cases, the Member will sign a declaration stating that the expenditure has been occurred and is in accordance with the requirements of the Determination.
Other Expenses. This includes mobile phones, recall expenditure and disability allowance.
Winding Up Expenditure (WUE) 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.
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. 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.
Where a Member owns the constituency office, an allowance of £2,000 may be claimed. In these circumstances, COE (see above) may not be claimed.
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.
Staffing costs are divided into three categories:
Category 1 -staff salaries (pay, statutory SSP/SMP), costs of replacement staff covering long-term sick absence;
Category 2 - other staff costs (recruitment, training and payroll administration costs) and
Category 3 - ancillary costs (ERNIC, pension contributions, statutory redundancy payments), costs of replacement staff covering maternity, paternity, parental or adoptive leave absences.
Category 1 and 2 costs combined are limited to £50,000 per year (pro rata). Within this limit, recruitment costs are restricted to £500 per recruitment exercise and training to £500 per annum. Staff costs continue to be paid for the three months’ winding up period.
Category 3 costs are unlimited.