MPΓÇÖs Watchdog Accused of Creating ΓÇ£luxuriousΓÇ¥ Office Space
The body charged with keeping MPs expenses under control, The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), has received criticism over its own use of taxpayer money after it emerged that they spent nearly ┬ú300,000 furnishing their office space in Central London.
Reported in the Telegraph, MPs voiced their concerns that the money being spent by the IPSA on its office space did not represent true value for money, with seven ┬ú538.00 chairs and 26 cabinets costing ┬ú2,295.00 each being highlighted.
Given that the IPSA is responsible for keeping the purse strings secure, you could be forgiven for siding with the rhetoric being spouted by some MPs such as Priti Patel, Conservative MP for Witham who was quoted by the Independent as saying:
ΓÇ£In this age of austerity IPSA has to realise that this is hard-pressed taxpayersΓÇÖ money it is spending.ΓÇ¥
ΓÇ£They have to furnish an office, but if they are have bought some items some may consider luxurious then they really should have bought items that were more modest.ΓÇ¥
What is also revealed in the report however is that when the newly formed IPSA moved into its offices after being established in May 2010, the offices were nothing more than a shell and required a full and complete refurbishment in order to make the office space fit for purpose ΓÇô a point addressed in a statement released by the IPSA:
ΓÇ£Last year we (the IPSA) walked into a shell of an office and needed to equip it ΓÇô there is a cost associated in doing so.
“We followed the proper procedures ΓÇô we held a competition through the Office of Government Commerce, where the Government has approved suppliers and rates.ΓÇ¥
ΓÇ£We negotiated even better terms than those pre-agreed rates. The costs represent 22 per cent of our accommodation project costs ΓÇô better than the industry standard of 25-35 per cent.ΓÇ¥
ΓÇ£But we would stress, these are one off costs. IPSA has committed publicly to get cheaper year on year and we will.ΓÇ¥
“We purchased a number of chairs for guests, these cost more than standard office chairs. Again, this was a one off expenditure which we will not be repeating.”
As what looks set to become a long standing watchdog of the public pennies it would seem sensible, at least to me, that the office space from which they operate achieves a certain standard and reflects their position.
It is also clear that the items listed are relevant to an office environment and within the realms of reality when it comes to being needed for them to actually carry out their job – unlike the duck-houses and moat cleaning that fueled widespread public outrage when the MP expenses scandal was first exposed last year.