Mr. Maude: To ask the Leader of the House what plans she has to bring forward proposals to increase the Communications Allowance; and what increase she intends to propose.The Communications Allowance provides funds to allow a Member of Parliament, to communicate proactively with their constituents and inform them about an MPs Parliamentary duties. MPs may claim up to £10,000 per year from this allowance. The Communications Allowance may be used to meet expenses for:
Helen Goodman: In accordance with the resolution of the House of 28 March, the Communications Allowance is increased on 1 April each year by the percentage increase in the retail price index as at 31 December the preceding year.
• Regular reports and constituency newslettersNow, I find this a little difficult to understand. Why is the Communications Allowance increased in line with the RPI (Retail Price Index) and not the CPI (Consumer Price Index)? The basic difference between the RPI and the CPI is that the CPI does not take into account housing costs and in particular owner occupiers’ costs such as mortgage interest payments. So what do mortgage interest payments have to do with the price of stationery?
• Questionnaires and surveys
• Targeted communications
• Contact cards
• Distribution costs including direct mailing and postage
• Some capital purchases
If the CPI is good enough for calculating public sector pay increases (particularly the Police), then why isn't it good enough to calculate the Communications Allowance? Could it be that if the allowance is calculated using the CPI, then it will only increase to £10,210 - whereas if it is calculated using the RPI, the allowance will increase to £10,430?
Maybe I'm wrong, but this looks like "one rule for us, and another rule for the little people."