LEIGH MP Andy Burnham has hit back at criticism of his London rental arrangements after being caught in a media storm concerning the rules governing MPs rent and mortgage arrangements.
Shadow Secretary of State for Health Mr Burnham responded after he was named in an investigation into MPs who are renting out a property they own as well as claiming accommodation expenses for renting a second house.
Mr Burnham said he was forced to begin renting out a flat in Kennington on which he took out a mortgage in 2006 after parliamentary expenses watchdog IPSA changed the rules to prevent MPs claiming for mortgage interest, while renting another unfurnished flat to be able to continue his work in parliament.
Although investigations into MPs who rent properties while having a mortgage on another house in the capital suggested some parliamentarians were renting properties to each other, Mr Burnham categorically stated he was not doing this
Mr Burnham said that while he supported IPSA’s move to prevent parliamentarians profiting from owning a property portfolio at taxpayers’ expense, he said the alterations had actually made MPs’ lives more difficult and costly.
He also hit back at some of the criticism of the group of MPs, who have acted within the rules laid down by IPSA, saying some of the coverage seemed determined to portray politics as negatively as possible. He said: “It’s a no-win situation. We are facing a constant effort to paint all this in a mostly negative light, which damages trust in politicians.
“We have to have accommodation in London and, while we should be doing everything we can to keep costs down, this is precisely why I bought a flat in the first place.
“I understand why, for clarity, IPSA wanted to make a break from mortgages, but I believe the changes could have been introduced without asking MPs to move to more expensive rented accommodation.
“Throughout the six years I had this flat my claims went down, and now they’ve gone up again, which people are going to find strange. I accept the arrangements are unusual, but MPs do not do a normal job.
“I would welcome a change back to the old rules so we could live in these properties. I do not know the person in my flat and everything is done through an independent lettings agent.”