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“It’s not like putting petrol in your car” – MP slams colleague for claiming 20p expenses for bike ride

Focus on bike ride claims - but reimbursement for cycling trips is just 0.29 per cent of Matt Western's travel expenses...

An MP has slammed a fellow member of the House of Commons who claimed 20 pence in expenses for a one-mile bike ride, saying “it’s not like putting petrol in your car.”

The Sun reports that Labour’s Matt Western, the MP since 2017 for Warwick & Leamington, made expenses claims totalling £8.60 for 19 trips made on constituency business in 2018/19, including four of one mile where he claimed 20 pence for each one.

The newspaper points out that there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on Western’s part and he was fully entitled to claim the sums.

But it does seem that besides the claiming of £1,600 duck houses for ornamental moats, nothing quite seems to pique the mainstream media’s interest in MPs’ expenses as when they claim money back for travelling by bicycle – certainly, reimbursement of petrol does not seem to attract the same attention.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which oversees expenses, has asked MPs to keep track of their journeys to make sure the claims they submit accurately reflect the mileage travelled and avoid overclaiming.

But one unnamed MP quoted by The Sun spluttered: “Your legs may hurt a little bit after going for a bike ride but it’s not like putting petrol in your car.”

Western, whose single biggest claim for cycling was a seven-mile journey for which he was reimbursed £1.40, said: “It’s important to send a signal out that you’re using a bike. It’s a paltry sum but better to encourage MPs to use their bicycles.

“I’m a keen cyclist,” he added. “It’s good for your health and good for the environment which helps reduce congestion and it’s quicker and you don’t have to worry about parking.”

The £8.60 claimed for cycling during the year is equivalent to just 0.29 per cent of his total travel expenses of £2,989.64 for the year  according to the IPSA website– most of which were for train travel, but which also included £623.70 related to use of his own car.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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25 comments

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ktache | 4 years ago
3 likes

It's a symptom of deregulation and the belief in the power of the free market.  

The idea that the market will keep you safe, especially if you are some of the poorest people is ludicrous.

Don't worry, New Labour were as guilty of this concept as the Tories.

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hawkinspeter replied to ktache | 4 years ago
4 likes
ktache wrote:

It's a symptom of deregulation and the belief in the power of the free market.  

The idea that the market will keep you safe, especially if you are some of the poorest people is ludicrous.

Don't worry, New Labour were as guilty of this concept as the Tories.

It's almost as if the laws are made to benefit the capital holders, right comrade?

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alansmurphy | 4 years ago
1 like

There was a beeb documentary talking about the fires that should have prevented Grenfell - I believe planning rules in general were relaxed rather than the cladding having missed a particular standard. But given some fires going back 30 years where things attached to the building actually caused the fires to spread and many fire officers warning of it, things were ignored. The whole issue of each flat being fire 'proof' for 20 minutes didn't take into account the fire spreading from outside the building fuelled either by the cladding or the 'passages' caused by the cladding...

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ChrisB200SX | 4 years ago
0 likes

An MP making a fuss about another MP claiming a whole 20p for a bike journey... it's almost as if they aren't trying to use our tax money to make themselves even more rich:
https://twitter.com/paullewismoney/status/1127262726718464000

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RicePudding | 4 years ago
2 likes

Some of us common folk don't even get to claim for expenses getting around.

Sick of cars being considered essential and all other modes of transport deems you a second class citizen.

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RicePudding | 4 years ago
4 likes

Some of us common folk don't even get to claim for expenses getting around.

Sick of cars being considered essential and all other modes of transport deems you a second class citizen.

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FluffyKittenofT... | 4 years ago
8 likes

“Your legs may hurt a little bit after going for a bike ride but it’s not like putting petrol in your car.”

 

Yup, it isn't.  It's less irresponsible and less of a drain on the taxpayer.  The question should be why is it acceptable to claim expenses for the cost of hauling around an uneccesary mass of metal and plastic just for the claiment to travel from A to B?

 

In general with the expenses arguments I don't really get the attention paid to piddling sums that MPs may have claimed for trivial items, compared to the far larger sums claimed for really dodgy things.  The home-flipping thing, for example, where they made a big profit out of the system (not to mention profiting from the housing shortage that they themselves had partly engineered.) seemed much more important than some of the trivial stuff for a few quid at a time.

 

 

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ooldbaker replied to FluffyKittenofTindalos | 4 years ago
4 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

In general with the expenses arguments I don't really get the attention paid to piddling sums that MPs may have claimed for trivial items, compared to the far larger sums claimed for really dodgy things.  The home-flipping thing, for example, where they made a big profit out of the system (not to mention profiting from the housing shortage that they themselves had partly engineered.) seemed much more important than some of the trivial stuff for a few quid at a time.

Especially when there is a much more expensive alternative that never seems to get any mention. 

I would be impressed with an MP that claimed pennies for a quick snack rather then £250 for a long lunch but the press loves to find examples of the former to ridicule.

In view of the air quality I think all journeys of less than 10 miles should be be by bike or the offending MP should be fined for using a car rather than a bicycle. It would not take long then for new laws on close passing and new cycle lanes everywhere.

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burtthebike | 4 years ago
5 likes

Neatly summing up the current climate and political problems in one easy example.

Some politicians, presumably tory, think that giving someone reasonable recompense for riding a bicycle is absurd, but paying them to drive a car is sensible.  They also think that it is perfectly ok to drive a car for short journeys, producing a lot of pollution, rather than ride a bike, producing none.

The only political party with any credibility at the moment are the Greens, and they really do support cycling.

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racyrich | 4 years ago
1 like

In the past I've worked away from home and claimed the rent in a houseshare plus 20p / mile for the 55mile round trip bike ride I gave myself. Still worked out less than commuting 120miles daily at 56p / mile.

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wycombewheeler | 4 years ago
1 like

20p per mile is the hmrc allowed rate for cycle journeys. My company expenses system allows the same, and I would have no qualms approving such a claim for the poeple I manage. After all it saves the company (or in this case taxpayer) 25p per mile.

However, claiming for a 1mile journey does seem a little petty.

As to rent, yes otehr employers do pay expenses where people have to work away from home, but MPs seem to be able to designate which of the two adresses is 'theirs' and which is an expense. It should be simple - the place where your family live is your own cost, and the other place is claimable. However it should not be acceptable to claim for a mortgage for the second property and then reap back the value of he house in later years.

It would be simpler still if the house of commons, knowing they have to accomodate 400MPs at the taxpayers expense looked at a more efficient way to achieve this, such as owning a number of flats in the vicinity, after all there will always be someone needing to sty there.

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ooldbaker replied to wycombewheeler | 4 years ago
2 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

It would be simpler still if the house of commons, knowing they have to accomodate 400MPs at the taxpayers expense looked at a more efficient way to achieve this, such as owning a number of flats in the vicinity, after all there will always be someone needing to sty there.

I think the opposite. MPs are often elected never having held a "real job". They spend their entire working lives surrounded by like minded people hardly ever meeting the people they represent.

The idea of them living in purpose built flats with their only neighbours being MPs as well is a nightmare senario.

The cost of expenses if a scandal but next to nothing compared to the damage their policies can do.

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ChrisB200SX replied to ooldbaker | 4 years ago
5 likes
ooldbaker wrote:

I think the opposite. MPs are often elected never having held a "real job". They spend their entire working lives surrounded by like minded people hardly ever meeting the people they represent.

The idea of them living in purpose built flats with their only neighbours being MPs as well is a nightmare senario.

The cost of expenses if a scandal but next to nothing compared to the damage their policies can do.

Situate the flats in mixed-use developments. I suggest all of them should be within places such as Grenfell Tower.

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hawkinspeter replied to ChrisB200SX | 4 years ago
2 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:
ooldbaker wrote:

I think the opposite. MPs are often elected never having held a "real job". They spend their entire working lives surrounded by like minded people hardly ever meeting the people they represent.

The idea of them living in purpose built flats with their only neighbours being MPs as well is a nightmare senario.

The cost of expenses if a scandal but next to nothing compared to the damage their policies can do.

Situate the flats in mixed-use developments. I suggest all of them should be within places such as Grenfell Tower.

Is that why the tax-payer will be picking up the tab for putting non-lethal cladding on the privately owned flats?

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ChrisB200SX replied to hawkinspeter | 4 years ago
1 like
hawkinspeter wrote:

Is that why the tax-payer will be picking up the tab for putting non-lethal cladding on the privately owned flats?

Oh jeez, is that actually happening?! Can't we just fund the police/CPS/Courts instead so the b@stards that let the situation happen (and profited from it) can be held accountable and forced to pay for what they should have done by law in the first place?

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hawkinspeter replied to ChrisB200SX | 4 years ago
0 likes
ChrisB200SX wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

Is that why the tax-payer will be picking up the tab for putting non-lethal cladding on the privately owned flats?

Oh jeez, is that actually happening?! Can't we just fund the police/CPS/Courts instead so the b@stards that let the situation happen (and profited from it) can be held accountable and forced to pay for what they should have done by law in the first place?

From: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48211833

The £200m bill to replace Grenfell Tower-type cladding on about 150 private high-rise blocks in England is to be met by the government.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire had previously said the bill should be footed by the owners, not the taxpayer.

But he said owners had been trying to offload the costs on to leaseholders and that the long wait for remedial work had caused anxiety for residents.

Leaseholder groups said the news would be a "relief" but more was needed.

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srchar replied to hawkinspeter | 4 years ago
0 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
ChrisB200SX wrote:
hawkinspeter wrote:

Is that why the tax-payer will be picking up the tab for putting non-lethal cladding on the privately owned flats?

Oh jeez, is that actually happening?! Can't we just fund the police/CPS/Courts instead so the b@stards that let the situation happen (and profited from it) can be held accountable and forced to pay for what they should have done by law in the first place?

From: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48211833

The £200m bill to replace Grenfell Tower-type cladding on about 150 private high-rise blocks in England is to be met by the government.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire had previously said the bill should be footed by the owners, not the taxpayer.

But he said owners had been trying to offload the costs on to leaseholders and that the long wait for remedial work had caused anxiety for residents.

Leaseholder groups said the news would be a "relief" but more was needed.

I've been trying to find out if the current cladding was previously approved by the relevant authorities, but has now had that approval rescinded, post-Grenfell.  Can't find anything though.  Anyone have any relevant links?

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muhasib | 4 years ago
0 likes

In comparison the Armed Forces allow 15 pence per mile for cycle journeys, HMRC allow 20pence per mile before it is considered to be a taxable benefit so you can claim mileage allowance relief for the 5 pence difference.

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Mungecrundle | 4 years ago
2 likes

Even when MPs are not claiming for things that they shouldn't, they exist within an expenses regime that the tax man would crucify any of us plebs for.

Example - how much tax, as benefit in kind, would you pay should your employer be generous enough to pay your rent?

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Griff500 replied to Mungecrundle | 4 years ago
3 likes
Mungecrundle wrote:

Even when MPs are not claiming for things that they shouldn't, they exist within an expenses regime that the tax man would crucify any of us plebs for.

Example - how much tax, as benefit in kind, would you pay should your employer be generous enough to pay your rent?

Actually it's exactly the same for you and I If we need to maintain a second home for work purposes. For example people who live in Edinburgh but work in London (or in my case Hamburg), do get a tax free second home allowance. The problem comes when, as with some MPs, they use the, "second home" as the main home, moving the family to London, and rent out the family home!

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Mungecrundle replied to Griff500 | 4 years ago
0 likes
Griff500 wrote:
Mungecrundle wrote:

Even when MPs are not claiming for things that they shouldn't, they exist within an expenses regime that the tax man would crucify any of us plebs for.

Example - how much tax, as benefit in kind, would you pay should your employer be generous enough to pay your rent?

Actually it's exactly the same for you and I If we need to maintain a second home for work purposes. For example people who live in Edinburgh but work in London (or in my case Hamburg), do get a tax free second home allowance. The problem comes when, as with some MPs, they use the, "second home" as the main home, moving the family to London, and rent out the family home!

I'll defer to anyone who actually knows more than FA about accounting, which is my current qualification in the subject. However unless MPs are provided accomodation at their place of work then my interpretation of the HMRC website would be that the type of allowance they get would be taxed as a benefit for joe public.

https://www.gov.uk/expenses-and-benefits-accommodation

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Hussavik | 4 years ago
4 likes

Simple thinking from the moaning MP and a symptom of politics today. 45p a mile (the HMRC rate for a driven mile) doesn't just cover petrol, it's the cost of the wear and tear too. I get about 1,000 miles out of a pair of continental 4 seasons. At £70 a pair, that's 7p a mile on tires alone. Add in disc brake pads, which probably add about another 2p a mile the way I ride and I'm already nearly half way there.

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Panslanepaul replied to Hussavik | 4 years ago
0 likes
Hussavik wrote:

Simple thinking from the moaning MP and a symptom of politics today. 45p a mile (the HMRC rate for a driven mile) doesn't just cover petrol, it's the cost of the wear and tear too. I get about 1,000 miles out of a pair of continental 4 seasons. At £70 a pair, that's 7p a mile on tires alone. Add in disc brake pads, which probably add about another 2p a mile the way I ride and I'm already nearly half way there.

Blimey, you need to ride on different tyres: I got 6,000km out of a pair Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtremes which were swapped front to rear at 2,400km, and my GP4000S II lasted 5,300km on the rear and over 7,000km on the front.

What used to piss me off as a motorcycle rider was that the HMRC rate for motorcyles was only 25p/mile i.e. 5p more than cycling, when everything about motorcycling is dearer than pedalling before you even add fuel, VED.

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John Smith replied to Panslanepaul | 4 years ago
0 likes
Panslanepaul wrote:
Hussavik wrote:

Simple thinking from the moaning MP and a symptom of politics today. 45p a mile (the HMRC rate for a driven mile) doesn't just cover petrol, it's the cost of the wear and tear too. I get about 1,000 miles out of a pair of continental 4 seasons. At £70 a pair, that's 7p a mile on tires alone. Add in disc brake pads, which probably add about another 2p a mile the way I ride and I'm already nearly half way there.

Blimey, you need to ride on different tyres: I got 6,000km out of a pair Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtremes which were swapped front to rear at 2,400km, and my GP4000S II lasted 5,300km on the rear and over 7,000km on the front.

What used to piss me off as a motorcycle rider was that the HMRC rate for motorcyles was only 25p/mile i.e. 5p more than cycling, when everything about motorcycling is dearer than pedalling before you even add fuel, VED.

It's 24p now, which is why when I had to visit our wearhouse in my last job I chose to take my car. My choices were:

Motorbike with 5k mile services, 10k miles on a set of tyres, 10k miles for brake pads, 20k for disks, and took 45 mins with filtering through traffic and parking at the door.

Car, 12k mile service, 30k miles on a set of tyres (which cost about the same as a set for the car), 50k miles for brake pads and 100k miles for disks, but took 1h-1h30 including sitting in traffic and finding a parking space.

I took the car, didn't have the running costs comming out of my pocket and the extra time in the car was work time.

 

 

Back on subject, it depends on a lot of things. Type of tyres, weight of the rider, power and speed of the rider, how you brake, and just luck. I have had between 1500 miles and 4000 for a set of tyres, and my last set I threw at about 4000 because they were solid, but such hard work. Vittoria Randonneur. Not a single puncture, but so slow. Swapped to GP4000S II and I had forgotten what good tyres were like. Worth the risk. The only puncture so far was from hitting a pot hole (I can say that today because I use my mountain bike today).

 

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ktache | 4 years ago
5 likes

Looking at the IPSA website and picking an MP at random I worked out that they get 45p a mile for car driving, with a quick back of a fag packet calculation, and making an assumption of £1.30 per litre, means that if they are getting anything more than 13mpg they are raking it in.

Wear and tear and depreciation costs, if I could run my habit at 20p a mile I'd be very happy, let alone the extra cost in food.  I think it could be quite disturbing to actually work it out for real.

I did once work out that using duracells in my Specialised 2.5W halogen front light in the early 90s cost me about 10p a mile.  Big relief to switch over to rechargeables.

 

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