Burnham denies expense rules breach

Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham

MP Andy Burnham has denied claims of wrongdoing over housing expenses.

Mr Burnham, who is favourite to become the next Labour leader, was criticised for claiming £17,000 a year in expenses to rent a flat in London, despite owning another two-bedroomed flat nearby, which he rents out.

Campaigners are now questioning whether he should be spending taxpayers’ cash on rent when he owns a property within walking distance from Parliament.

But a spokesman for the MP said he was “forced” into the arrangement by a change in Commons’ expenses rules in 2012 and that he does not make any money.

A spokesman for Mr Burnham said: “Like other MPs representing northern constituencies, and consistent with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), Andy Burnham has to have additional accommodation in London to fulfil his parliamentary duties.

“He was forced into the current arrangement when the rules changed and this has been transparent since 2012. He did not seek the current arrangement and he does not make any money from it.”

The statement then gave a full account of the procedure, which started 10 years ago, when he took a second mortgage to buy a flat in London. The spokesman added this saved a considerable amount of money for the taxpayer as it allowed him to reduce his accommodation claims.

He added: “The Commons only ever funded the ‘interest’ part of the mortgage and Mr Burnham funded the repayment part as well as another mortgage on his main home in Leigh.

“Early in the last Parliament, the expenses rules changed to stop claims against mortgages. Andy Burnham did not want to leave his flat but had no choice. He moved to another flat in the same area.

“At that time, MPs that had claimed against mortgages were asked to pay a lump sum to the Commons in respect of any “indirect subsidy” that may have accrued from being helped to take out a mortgage on a property that had increased in value. He did this in instalments over the last Parliament.

“At the point when the lump sum was paid, it was determined that any direct or indirect public subsidy in the property had been fully redeemed. The requirement to clear any possibility of subsidy was introduced to protect MPs from the kind of allegations that have been made.

“When Andy Burnham left his flat, he continued to have a mortgage on it. He has therefore had to rent it out.”

This only covers the costs, which include: service charge; letting/management fee and maintenance. No money is made from renting out the flat.”