Published Daily Telegraph : 8:30AM BST 31 May 2009 By Chris Hastings, Public Affairs Editor
‘Dennis Skinner: Claimed for accountants’ fees on MPs’ expenses. Photo: Eddie Mulholland. Mr Skinner, dubbed the beast of Bolsover, first claimed £528.75 to pay the bill of the accountancy firm Brayhaw Morey in July 2004 under the Incidental Expenditure Provision (IEP) designed to cover office expenses.
The invoice submitted along with the claim states: “Professional services in connection with preparation and submission of your ‘self assessment’ tax return for the year ended 5th April 2004 together with calculating all tax liability, corresponding with HM Inspector of Taxes on your behalf and generally advising you accordingly.” He paid the slightly lower sum of £470 in 2005 in return for the same professional service. The MP on Saturday night said he had checked with the fees office before lodging the claims for the work.
MPs are obliged to pay tax on any reimbursed fees paid to accountants. The Inland Revenue is believe to be investigating whether up to 40 MPs including several Ministers have fulfilled this particular obligation.
Mr Skinner said he now planned to contact the Inland Revenue to ensure they had any money that was due to them. “I am going to make sure that I haven’t kept a penny which is due to the Inland Revenue.
“When I get back to London and I am going to contact them and explain what I have done.” “I want them to have any money which they are due.”
Mr Skinner, 77, who is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, repeatedly claimed £100 a month to cover the cost of unspecified sundries. At one point the House of Commons had to write to him to ask him to submit receipts with all such claims in the future. Mr Skinner on Saturday night said the claims were to cover things like dry cleaning and laundry.
“I remember being contacted about the receipts and I went to dig them out. I was surprised to find I was spending more than £100 a month on these things.” Mr Skinner regularly claimed the maximum £400 a month food allowance allowable under the Additional Costs Allowance (ACA) to support his expenses in running a second property and also received £3,500 towards the cost of a new bathroom in his London home.
One House of Commons letter dated October 2004 states: “As you know Mr Skinner has had his bathroom redone and is going to submit a claim. I’ve told him that we will pay only £3,500 and he is content with that.”
The MP said he had decided to refit the bathroom on medical advice following his double heart bypass operation. He said the repair work had actually cost £12,000 but he had insisted on keeping the claim down to £3,500 because he had previously voted against an increase in the additional cost allowance.
“I voted against the increase and I wanted to hold my head up high. That is why I kept the cost of the claim down. In 2005 Mr Skinner claimed £1,760 to cover the cost of a replacement bed settee from Sofa World “the custom made sofa company.” Mr Skinner said he had paid for half of the sofa which was also bought for health reasons.’
Dennis made it into the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Mockers’ category for MPs’ expenses. He wasn’t among the Saints listed there.