Members' Expenses 2015 - 2016
Figures for the full financial year (April 2015 - March 2016)
Office Cost Expenditure 1
Other Expenditure 2
Travel and Subsistence 3
|Durkan, Mark H||£66,792.51||£5,624.85||£2,238.00||£74,655.36|
|Ni Chuilin, Caral||£62,394.68||£4,523.09||£0.00||£66,917.77|
|Ó hOisín, Cathal||£65,219.05||£4,858.59||£7,759.00||£77,836.64|
|Ó Muilleoir, Máirtín||£66,820.64||£4,306.59||£0.00||£71,127.23|
The maximum Office Cost Expenditure (OCE) available for 2015-2016 is £67,161. The annual allowance is set by the Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) in the Northern Ireland Assembly Members’ Salaries, Allowances, Expenses and Pensions Determination March 2012 (as amended). Where 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 Northern Ireland Assembly Members’ Salaries, Allowances, Expenses and Pensions Determination March 2012 (as amended) can be found on the IFRP website here.
The amount of OCE available each year is a maximum amount which must not be exceeded. If at any point of time during the year 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.
With the exception of childcare, “Other Allowances” are not paid directly to Members, instead this category of allowance is payable to assist with specific support staff costs and may be paid to support staff or on their behalf to a third party (e.g. contributions to pensions). These allowances include: temporary secretarial expenditure, support staff mileage, disability allowance, support staff statutory redundancy payments and the cost of employer pension contributions paid for support staff. The largest allowance claimed in this category is the “employer pension contribution”, which is made on behalf of support staff (66% of the total). Temporary secretarial expenditure (TSE) is payable to cover additional costs that may be incurred by a Member in employing additional temporary staff to cover if a permanent employee is absent from work due to illness or injury or on maternity leave. The amount of TSE claimed continues to vary from year to year.
Winding Up Expenditure (WUE)
Winding Up Expenditure is paid to a former Member to allow him or her to bring their Assembly business to an orderly close. OCE is not payable from the date on which a former Member ceases to be a Member of the Assembly. WUE (like OCE) can only be claimed for actual expenditure.
Members receive a standard rate of Motor Mileage Allowance for business travel by car. The rates that may be claimed are 45p per miles for the first 10,000 miles and 25p per mile thereafter. Travel from home to the main office and for Members who live more than 20 miles outside their constituency areas, is not eligible for tax relief. The amounts shown for Travel Allowance (Motor Mileage) are the gross amounts claimed by Members and do not reflect any tax deducted. Members’ motor mileage allowances are likely to be affected by the distance they live from Parliament Buildings and by the size of their constituencies.
Other Travel includes airfares, taxis and public transport expenses.
Subsistence allowance is payable in respect of expenses incurred when a Member’s is away overnight from his or her normal place of residence on Assembly business.