MPs can now “claim the cost of food and refreshments for an office festive event” or for their constituencies. However, it must be within a “parliamentary context” and not “purely a social event”.
New guidance by the expenses agency Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) has been in response to frequently asked questions by MPs on how they can celebrate the festive season.
Lights, tinsel and a Christmas tree can also be bought under expenses because “festive decorations” are set out in the guidance.
However, MPs are not allowed to claim the cost of alcohol at their Christmas parties.
It also urged MPs to be mindful of the current cost of living crisis, and any claims “should represent value for money, especially in the current economic climate”.
The new guide also said also festivities “must be expressly parliamentary in nature and should not be party-political, campaigning, or self-promotional.”
MPs are also allowed to claim the printing and posting of Christmas cards but the guidance advises “they should not be sent to large groups or all constituents as there is a risk this may not represent value for money and could be considered self-promotional.”
It adds that Christmas calendars also cannot be issued as “this is not considered a parliamentary activity.”
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The new guidance comes at a time when 35 percent of Brits will spend less on gifts this Christmas.
Research commissioned by Oxfam and conducted by OnePoll said that 66 percent of those surveyed said the current cost of living crisis has caused more households to consider their festive funds.
Those asked also said their electricity bill (42 percent) and a reluctance to go into debt (24 percent) were other reasons to spend less money this Christmas.
The study also revealed that 30 percent were frightened this winter would be difficult financially and 10 percent worried their children would not get enough presents this year.
Another survey, researched by YouGov, said that four in ten parents were planning to cut back on Christmas and the children’s charity Barnardo discovered that 47 percent of families will be cutting back on presents for their children.