MP Collins is county's top expenses claimant
SOUTH Kent's MPs racked up a handsome £100,000-plus in expenses last year – with one claiming £20,000 for annual rent on a second home.
According to the parliamentary IPSA website, Tory member Damian Collins (Folkestone & Hythe) was the biggest claimant while Dover's Charlie Elphicke was the lowest at considerably less than half of his near neighbour.
Mr Collins, also number-one claimant of all of Kent's MPs, cashed in on allowances for accommodation, admin, travel and general expenses totalling £38,276. Mr Elphicke was ranked the county's 12th with claims for £15,454.
Mr Collins claims more than £20,394 per year to rent a home in London.
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Ashford's MP and immigration minister Damian Green put in staffing, office or other costs amounting to £24,432, seventh highest in Kent and second among the four members in south Kent.
Thanet South's Laura Sandys was eighth in Kent and third in this area with claims for £23, 906.
Mr Collins said: "As an MP you are expected to work in two places and that's not new – that's part of the job.
"I claim an accommodation allowance but there's a limit to what one can spend and it may be that I am more efficient in other areas.
"I know this is a subject that people have strong views on."
Much of MPs' spending has been reined in since the expenses scandal revealed shocking abuses of the system and led to convictions and prison sentences for members committing fraud.
Mr Elphicke said before he was elected that he would not claim a second home allowance, food or furniture if he became an MP.
He added: "I am not going to comment on what other MPs have claimed in allowances but I made a pledge that I'd not claim for homes, food or furniture, no matter what hardship it caused me."
A spokesman for the Taxpayers' Alliance said: "MPs' expenses has been and remains an emotive issue."
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