Potters Bar boasts one of Hertfordshire’s cheapest MPs

PUBLISHED: 17:07 07 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:07 07 February 2018

Oliver Dowden in Parliament. Picture: Parliament TV

Oliver Dowden in Parliament. Picture: Parliament TV

Parliament TV

Potters Bar’s MP claims some of the most frugal parliamentary expenses in the county, according to figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

Figures released last month show that Hertsmere’s Conservative MP Oliver Dowden, who was recently appointed Minister for Implementation at the Cabinet Office, claimed £3,931.26 since April last year.

While some MPs in Hertfordshire, such as Oliver Heald for North East Herts, are claiming up to £16,350.67 for their constituency work, Oliver Dowden has been decidedly less of a spendthrift. 
Only Charles Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne, spends less in Herts, claiming just £2,263.50.

The breakdown

Office costs: £3,444.15, including stationery (-£296.70), newspapers (-£27.17), surgery venue hire (£192), other (£35), computer hardware (-£45.98), other equipment (£15 for earphones), Policy Research Unit subscription (£2,672) and computer software (£900).

Travel £487.11, including £181.44 for his own travel by car, £51.40 for rail journeys, £38.44 for a hotel and £31.35 for food during an Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme visit to the Defence Academy in Shrivenham, £13.25 for staff rail journeys, and £171.23 for staff journeys by car.

Figures do not include staff costs, not all of which have been revealed, and minus figures indicate where refunds were received.

We asked Mr Dowden how he saves so much taxpayers’ money – and if he is spending enough to be effective for his constituency.

One of the main reasons his expenses are so low is because he is not paying rent on a constituency office.

“Given how close we are in Hertsmere to London, in order to keep my expenses as low as possible I took the decision when I was elected to only maintain one office.

He added: “My staff and I are never more than an hour from the constituency.”

A typical week sees him spending Monday to Thursday in Westminster, and Fridays and Saturdays working in Hertsmere.

He said: “Every week my office handles hundreds of pieces of correspondence from local residents, ranging from requests for advice about a personal issue they are facing to concerns about what is going on nationally.

“Just this month I have held a surgery at Oakmere Primary School and a public meeting on crime at the Wyllyotts Centre.”

IPSA was set up after the expenses scandal of 2009 when it was revealed that some MPs were claiming costs unrelated to their political work.

Mr Dowden, who was not an MP at that time, said: “I welcome the now regular publication of Parliamentary expenses and it is absolutely right that taxpayers should be able to understand how their money is being spent.”

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