MPs can only claim £25 a day for food if they stay overnight outside London or their constituency

26 October 2020
What was claimed

MPs get £25 per day food allowance. That adds up to £845,000 per year for all MPs.

Our verdict

MPs can only claim this allowance for food if they stay overnight outside their constituency or London for parliamentary work. This is not what they can claim for every day of working in parliament, so this larger figure is meaningless.

A number of posts on Instagram and Twitter have made claims about how much MPs can expense for food per day. The posts say:

“Didn’t even realise MP’s get a £25 per day food allowance.

£125 per week

£1300 per year ( per person)

£845,000 per year for all MP’s

£800k + of our taxes go towards feeding MP’s on £80k a year while children go hungry. If that doesn’t bother you then you have a problem”.

MPs are allowed to claim up to £25 in food expenses per night, but only if they are staying overnight outside of London or their constituency as part of their parliamentary activities. This £25 can cover food purchased during the day but cannot include alcohol.

Therefore, the calculations done in the original tweet don’t make sense, as it’s extremely unlikely that every single MP would stay overnight outside either London or their constituency every week day that they work. As acknowledged by the person who originally posted the claim, an error in their calculation also means that even if this were true, the figure would be far higher than £845,000.

We can’t easily tell exactly how much MPs have claimed in total in expenses for food, as this data is published in a category combined with travel expenses. However, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority also publishes individual MPs’ expenses claims, and some of these are broken down into more specific categories, such as “Food and Drink”.

The post does correctly state that MPs are paid a basic annual salary of £81,932, as of April 2020.

As one of the posts mentions, the bars and restaurants within the Houses of Parliament are effectively subsidised, as they run at a loss. Staff (which includes MPs) and visitors can also use these outlets, and the cost of these catering services (which the House of Commons classes as the cost minus the sales income) was £2.6 million in 2018/19. We’ve written more about this topic here.

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