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Old 05-27-2009, 07:25 PM
stundie's Avatar
stundie stundie is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
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Posts: 633
MP Expenses, is only the tip of the iceberg.

BBC Panaroma

Is your MP working for you?

Panorama's Shelley Jofre explored all the benefits of being an MP

It has been a daily feast for everyone from astute political observers, to journalists, to neighbours chatting over the garden fence across the UK.

The steady flow of stories of how Members of Parliament have been using and in some cases abusing the various allowances that come with their office landed with a thud on the British political terrain.

Since then, there has been embarrassment for many, sanctions for several and the end of the political road for Speaker Michael Martin.

Panorama looks beyond MPs' expenses and offers a detailed examination of other sources of income available to them while they are meant to be working as the representative of their constituents.

The job juggle

From juggling two, three, even four other jobs, to keeping it in the family by using their staffing allowance to hire their spouses or children, to seeking cash donations and gifts from advocates for a specific policy, there is a wealth of opportunity in the life of an MP.

Panorama's Shelley Jofre puts on a vote-winning smile, her smart MP's suit and takes on the persona of a newly-elected honourable member before setting out to find just how much money she can tap into while technically on the job on behalf of her constituents.

Along the way, she will break no rules. But she will hear some strong opinions about the failings of the status quo and the need for change that most MPs now agree - after years of delay - is a pressing concern.

As Shelley realises just how much the job of representing the public can bring in for both her and her loved ones - well beyond the generous expenses allowance, the mortgage interest on a central London flat and the first-class rail travel to and from her constituency - she doles out jobs to her nearest and dearest, fills her trendy flat and meets and greets everyone who is anyone.

But soon her thoughts turn to life after politics, the electorate can be fickle and it is best to be prepared for the risk of unemployment.

During her time as an MP, Shelley gets consulting work with a handful of companies.

Thinking ahead, she realises these side jobs could be just the ticket when she decides to make that leap into the private sector.

The enhanced CV

With her CV polished and her contacts in place Shelley begins to look for work in earnest. Fictional MP Shelley gets to keep all her household goods

While she might miss some of the trappings of office, she gets to keep all the household goods from the so-called 'John Lewis list' that she has acquired to furnish her London flat.

That means no parting with the high threadcount bed linens, the goose down duvet, the leather club chair or the silk throw cushions. Keeping it all is well within the current rules, although they are set to change.

The flat that the taxpayers have financed on her behalf during her stint in Parliament will turn a handsome little profit that she can pack along with her boxes when she finally leaves politics behind.

It is here that she finds the pot of money aimed at helping former MPs to readjust to life on the outside.

It does not matter if they quit or are fired by the voters in a general election, the money to "resettle" after Parliament - ranging from £32,383 to a maximum of £64,766, £30,000 of which is tax free - is there to ease her way.


Please watch and forward links to anyone interested about the MP expense scandal.
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