What extra expenses can MPs claim if they have children?

10 August 2021
What was claimed

MPs get £5,435 to feed each of their own children, on top of their salary.

Our verdict

If MPs are outside of London they can claim the cost of rent on a home either in London or their constituency. As part of this rental budget, they can claim an extra £5,500 per child under 18, up to three children.

What was claimed

That’s more than the £3,087.96 a Universal Credit claimant gets each year.

Our verdict

£3,087 is the standard annual allowance for Universal Credit from October 2021 for someone aged under 25 who is single. Claimants with children receive more than this.

We’ve been asked by readers to check a viral claim on Twitter that says: “The £5,435 an MP gets to feed *each* of their children (on top of their salary) is more than the £3,087.96 a Universal Credit claimant gets each year.”

MPs do not get a specific allowance to feed their children.

The post seems to be referring to how much MPs with dependant children can spend on rented accommodation.

All MPs (except those in the London area, or who, because of their position have access to “grace and favour” residences) can claim back the costs of accommodation in relation to a property at one location—their constituency or London. This is “designed to meet costs incurred by MPs as a result of working from two permanent locations”.

This can cover hotel accommodation, rental payments or for those MPs who own the property, associated costs like utility bills, broadband and council tax. For MPs claiming for rental costs in London, the annual allowance is £23,290, while those renting in their constituencies outside of London can claim up to £16,320.

However, if the MP has “caring responsibilities”, they may have their rental accommodation budget limit increased by £5,500 a year for each dependant for whom they need to provide accommodation, up to a maximum of three. The figure used in the Facebook post was the additional budget last year, at £5,435 per dependant.

Dependants can be children of the MPs up to the age of 18, family members in receipt of certain benefits that they care for, or children between 18 and 21 in full time education, as long as the MP was claiming the costs of this dependant before April 2017, and the MP is their sole carer.

How much is universal credit?

The exact Universal Credit payment someone will get depends on their circumstances.

As well as the standard allowance (the value of which depends on whether you’re over or under the age of 25, and if you are in a couple), if you have one or two children you’ll get an extra amount per child. (Those with three or more children may get more but it depends on a number of other factors.)

The figure of £3,087.96 in the tweet appears to refer to the value of the annual standard allowance for a single applicant aged under 25 from October 2021. Currently, Universal Credit recipients receive an additional £20 per week, which was introduced during the pandemic, but is due to be removed from the end of September.

The extra amount someone can receive for a first child born before April 2017 is £3,390, and if the child was born after that date it’s £2,844.96. There are extra amounts available for disabled children and for childcare costs. 

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as partly false because this is how much on top of the baseline rental budget certain MPs could claim to cover rent per dependant child, for 2020/21. It isn’t a set amount given to MPs to feed their children.

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