Every year we process between 150,000 and 180,000 claims.
We have a three-tiered, evidence-based approach to checking and paying claims.
This helps us understand risk and maintain efficiency, so we can reimburse MPs and suppliers quickly.
By understanding the “lifetime” of a claim we can examine risk and identify any unusual claiming patterns or things which might need further examination.
This means we know can be sure taxpayers’ money is spent appropriately in support of MPs’
We check individual claims before they are paid by taking a random sample of selected claims along with and other types of claim that are priority risks.
All other claims are paid upon receipt of evidence and checked in the validation process.
This takes place after payment. Every three months (or more frequently if needed) we check MPs’ claims. This helps us to spot any claims that were not examined in the pre-payment validation process, and which should not have been paid. When this happens, MPs are asked to repay the money.
This helps IPSA to look at an MP’s claims in context and identify any unusual patterns or repeated errors that would not have been identified at the pre-payment validation stage.
Although not strictly part of the three-tiered approach, we review claims on an ad hoc basis (normally at the request of the MP). This is crucial to ensure that decisions made during the first and second validation tiers are fair and consistent with the Scheme rules.
Where we have decided that a claim (or part of a claim) is ineligible in the first two stages, an MP can request an internal review.
The review is conducted by our assurance team. The team is independent of those responsible for the earlier validation processes.
If the review finds our decision not to pay a claim (or to recover money that has been paid) was due to an error or incorrect application of Scheme rules, the claim will be paid.
The review may also uphold our original decision. Where this happens, MPs can choose to appeal to our Compliance Officer.
Read our Assurance reports.
Our assurance team carries out thematic reviews as the third and final tier of our validation process. They look at total spending by all MPs in a specific category or range of categories.
The reviews identify any significant outliers or unusual patterns and are followed up. This could include contacting the MPs in question to make sure the rules were well understood and that the claims were compliant.
Evidence from previous reviews has confirmed a high degree of compliance among MPs. In a small number of cases, they have led to repayments. In rare cases claims have been referred to our Compliance Officer (where we believe there may have been intentional abuse of the rules).
We use the findings of the thematic reviews to help inform other areas of our work. Where operational processes have not been effective in implementing rules or supporting MPs to comply with them, we have adjusted them so similar situations don’t occur in the future. Likewise, where rules have not been fully understood by MPs, we have improved our communication of them and made amendments to the Scheme where appropriate.
When we decide on the topics for thematic reviews each year, we consider:
perceived risk of error in certain areas of spend
discussions with our operational teams
feedback from MPs and stakeholders
Thematic reviews can also be influenced by significant events such as general elections.
Read our Thematic reviews.
MPs recruit and employ the staff who work directly for them, but we are responsible for paying their salary.
We regulate this cost in several ways.
MPs must recruit their staff using one of the standard job descriptions we have created. MPs must also employ new staff using one of our standard contracts. We set the salary bands for each job.
Who an MP can employ is also regulated, with clear rules about the employment of “connected parties” – such as the spouses, partners or children of MPs. Since 2017 MPs have not been able to employ new connected parties.
For us to pay for an MP’s office or residential accommodation, we need formal agreement between the property owner and the MP.
MPs must register the rental agreement with us, and we require a copy of a signed lease before any money is paid.
When elections occur, we send MPs extra guidance about what costs and expenses can be claimed.
If MPs’ staff want to take part in campaign activities, they must take annual leave or unpaid leave.