The row over Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s £116,000 Commons expenses has grown after neighbours challenged her claims about how much time she spends at lodgings with her sister in London.
If Jacky Smith were claiming any other kind of benefit, other than MP’s perks, she’d be in court and/or prison but it appears that MPs are exempt from the laws that they lay down and force everyone else to follow.
Claiming a type of benefit which you are not entitled to is a serious crime in Britain. In fact people in Britain are often told by the Government to report their neighbours if they suspect them of being benefit cheats and Jacky Smith’s neighbours have kindly obliged.
This new claim, that she only spends three nights a week there and never stays there during the long Parliamentary recesses, is very easy to check by the Parliament watchdogs, they need simply check the police work rosters – but they won’t. MPs look after their own.
Nor would she say if she had obtained a council tax discount – available to people who do not live at their ‘main home’ – on her Midlands property. Ms Smith’s local council also refused to discuss this.
This is interesting, because if, as she claims, her home in Redditch is not her ‘main’ home, then she is eligible for a 25% discount on her council tax there, as her husband would be the only adult living at the property. On the Redditch Borough council page, there doesn’t seem to be any information as to what precisely is meant by a main home, but surely spending more than half the week, the whole of summer and Christmas would imply that it was her ‘main home’?
Still, does it really matter how much council tax she pays? After all it is most likely being paid out of her expenses, and therefore by the taxpayer anyway if it is her second home.
Not the first
In Prescott’s case when caught out he merely said:
“I am now aware that an inadvertent error has occurred, based on a genuine misunderstanding.”
I am sure that benefits cheats trying the same tactic would not be let off so lightly. At the time Prescott was also claiming that one property was his second home, when in fact it was his main home. He wasn’t punished, other than to pay the money back.
Those who do not pay their council tax in a timely manner, are usually taken to court within a month, eight years demonstrates just how untouchable our politicians are.
The most annoying thing about this is that despite the council tax discount, the council tax she probably doesn’t pay and the fact that she only pays about £100 a week to her sister in rent, she still claims a whopping £24,000 a year!
If she pays less than £6,000 in rent to her sister, and presumably the house there is already furnished and she has a desk and so forth, she doesn’t pay for her travel (that is claimed separately) and she doesn’t pay for her police protection, so what exactly is that £24,000 for?
For the same amount she could stay in the Hilton in Euston and just 2 miles from Westminster every night that she is actually in London. Many MPs do either stay in Hotels or rent a small apartment, few though are so lavish as to stay each night in the Hilton.
Mrs Smith though, can afford to be lavish, it isn’t her money. Despite being paid £140,000 a year, and paying her husband to be her employee a further £40,000 a year, she still claims more than £150,000 a year in expenses!
Coincidentally, my other favourite MP, Keith ‘Back Hand’ Vaz, also claims about £150,000 a year in expenses and also claims the full amount for a second home (despite only voting every now and then).