10 July 2011 | Adam Leach
More needs to be done to ensure MPs use central
procurement deals and expertise to get value for money from their expenses, a
report has found.
The National AuditOffice (NAO) review,
published this week, looked into the effectiveness of an expenses scheme
brought in in 2009 following the parliamentary expenses scandal. The
overhauled system requires MPs to provide evidence for each claim, to
categorise specific types of expense and outlines what they can claim money
back for. The Independent ParliamentaryStandards Authority (IPSA)
was created in 2009 to ensure the scheme was adhered to, but the NAO
report said it was failing to “give
sufficient importance to supporting MPs' spending in a cost-effective
Despite MPs making repeated calls for government
departments to save public money by taking advantage of centralised purchasing
power, members are failing to reap similar benefits for goods and services they
all buy, such as travel, furniture, stationery and staff.
found that IPSA has failed to follow the lead set by a number of government
departments that have set up centralised purchasing to cut costs. It said IPSA
had decided against doing this because MPs wanted “a high degree of flexibility
to procure goods and services wherever they wish”. It also found advice on purchasing
services was not given to MPs because IPSA feared it would create a ‘John Lewis
List’ culture, where members requested items they didn’t need simply because
others were doing so.
Amyas Morse, said: “The [expenses] scheme does not give enough importance to
helping MPs spend in a cost-effective way. They are not required to make use of
the few existing centralised procurement mechanisms. Moreover, IPSA does not
normally provide advice to MPs, beyond the rules of the scheme, on what would
represent cost-effective procurement, even following explicit requests.”
spokesman said the organisation would look at the recommendations.