Rent blame game

Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy

EAST Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy has flatly denied claims he exploited a loophole to raise extra cash from his London flat.

The shadow defence minister was among 27 MPs reported to be generating income from rent while receiving expenses.

Mr Murphy moved into a new flat and sub-let the original after the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority stopped MPs claiming for interest on mortgages this summer.

However, the practice has come under criticism.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “It was the cry that it’s all within the rules combined with attempts to suppress the publication of claims that made the MPs’ expenses crisis three years ago so toxic.

“The public’s faith was left in tatters in 2009 and the latest allegations could endanger much of the work that has been done since then to restore public confidence in our politicians.

“It is vital that there is total transparency in all matters relating to MPs’ taxpayer-funded expenses and allowances.”

However, Mr Murphy thinks he has been forced out of his own home and it’s the system that is at fault.

He said: “I don’t like the rules that forced me to move out of the flat I own and rent a different one.

“These rules were introduced for good reasons, but I have always said they should be looked at again.

“Years ago I bought a small flat in London.

“I paid mortgage payments and, like every other MP, could claim on the mortgage interest.

“I was happy in that flat and wanted to stay there.

“In 2010, however, new IPSA rules meant that I had to move out since claims on mortgage interest were being phased out.

“I therefore moved into a different flat and now claim on this new property alone. I make no claim in respect of my original property.”

The Labour man continued: “This has left me with a flat in London on which I have a mortgage but where I cannot afford to live.

“I cannot afford to pay a mortgage on an empty flat on top of the mortgage for my family home in Clarkston.

“I don’t want to sell my London flat and so have rented it out.

“The rent I receive covers the mortgage, the agent’s management fee and on-going maintenance costs.

“I have made no profit from this arrangement. I do not rent to or from another MP.

“It is unfortunate that I had to move from a flat I owned and liked and move in to more expensive rented accommodation.

“If the rules were changed back I would happily move back into the flat I own.

“I will continue to try to persuade the authorities to change the rules so that I can move back into the cheaper flat I own.”

The SNP’s Stewart Maxwell MSP told The Extra: “Voters in East Renfrewshire are sick and tired of Westminster politicians exploiting the expenses system.

“The best opportunity to rid Scotland of the sleaze at Westminster is with independence, which is one of many reasons why people will be voting Yes in 2014.”