A fresh expenses scandal worth millions proves top MPs are players in the rigged system
The Mirror has revealed a fresh expenses scandal. And it proves many MPs aren’t fighting the rigged system. On the contrary, they’re a part of it.
“Should not be making a profit”
160 MPs pocketed over £42m selling off their second homes, despite receiving public funding towards the accommodation. Environment secretary Michael Gove, for instance, made an £870,000 profit selling off two homes. And Boris Johnson’s taxpayer-funded property has skyrocketed in value by £1.2m.
Politicians claimed the taxpayer funding as part of the old expenses system but cashed in on the homes years later. Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the committee of standards in public life, said:
People should not be making a profit. It was there to help them meet their public responsibilities. You should not be profiting out of special taxpayer funds. You should repay any gain you made over that period. The arrangement was made purely to take into account MPs who came from the North who would struggle to meet the housing costs.
The Mirror‘s investigation casts further doubt on the ability of some UK lawmakers to solve the housing crisis. In fact, Conservative austerity policies have only exacerbated the problem. In 2010, then chancellor George Osborne launched £3bn of annual cuts to housing associations, making the government’s recent proposals obsolete.
Too many MPs are landlords
One in five MPs are landlords themselves, meaning they are directly profiting from extortionate housing prices. Of those MPs, 87 are Conservative compared to 28 from Labour and three from the SNP.
The 2017 Labour manifesto, meanwhile, contains fundamental proposals to deal with the crisis. The party pledged to “build at least 100,000 council or housing association homes” per year. This is necessary. If you earned the national average salary of £26,500, 91% of the housing market in England and Wales would be beyond your income.
Crucially, the Brexit deadlock is sidelining the real issues that actually led people to vote for change in the referendum. We need to provide housing and other necessities as a public part of UK society. Because otherwise we’re left renting our accommodation at an extortionate cost. And at present, around 20% of our own lawmakers are part of the few benefiting. We must bring the scam to an end.
Featured image via Flickr – N04 / Flickr – Policy Exchange
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