Monday, 18 May 2009

What the papers said

We thought we'd prepare a little digest of local press attention regarding Levitt's expenses in the recent past. So here goes:

The Glossop Advertiser took a look at Tom's expenses for the year 2005/2006 back in November 2006, when it was revealed he had claimed nearly £140,000. Of that, £16,977 was claimed for his second home, £74,262 for staff salaries (one full-time and 3 part-time assistants), £21,650 for office costs, £12,044 for postage and £4,417 for stationary, as well as £9,031 for travel expenses. The headline? 'MPs expenses are 85% below cap' - the calm before the storm?.

12 months later in 2007 the Glossop Advertiser returns again placing him in the Top 10 (actually, he was 8th). For 2006/2007, the total was now £168,660, and in hindsight, the article makes an interesting and no doubt worrying comparison for Levitt by pointing out the top claimant was the Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik. However, the article does not go into detail beyond the fact that he claimed a combined £31,615 for mail and stationary, doubling the total for the previous year.

Also focusing on Tom this month was the Buxton Advertiser, pointing out that the increase on last year's total bill for the taxpayer was £29,103. Again, the mail bill is the main focus, with Levitt pointing out it's high because he likes to communicate with his constituents. The provided the following details about all of the expenses claimed:

London Accommodation - 20,310
Office running costs - 23,403
Staff - 80,085
Members travel - 11,842
Staff travel - 475
Stationery - 7,915
Postage - 23,700
Computer Equip - 930
Total - 168,660

Finally, the Buxton Advertiser compares Levitt with three other local MPs - Charlotte Atkins, Patrick McLoughlin and Nicholas Winterton - and finds that he comes top of the list.

The Glossop Advertiser was back on Tom's case in January 2008 to point out that Levitt was reported to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards about the latter bill. Though Levitt was quick to trumpet that he had been cleared, current events must mean that he's worried it will be looked at again. However, the paper wasn't done with Tom yet, and in February 2008 it looked at the issue of his wife's wages. The article also revealed Levitt claimed £80,085 in staff costs and £7,725 for travel.

Much more recently, in April this year, The Derbyshire Times referred to Levitt as 'the most expensive Derbyshire MP', ranking at 48th in the country for his claims for the year 2007/2008. Levitt's breakdown is given as the following - £164,620 in total, costs of £22,450 for his second home, £14,287 for travel expenses, of which £2,955 was claimed against the costs of 22 journeys taken by his wife.

No doubt there'll be much more press attention in the coming weeks, especially given Levitt's admission yesterday* that he claimed more than he was entitled for mortgage costs.

*when this link no longer works, try this screen grab

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