MPs eligible for £10,000 grant from councils over constituency office closures
Hundreds of politicians are entitled to a £10,000 one-off cash grant from their local authority to cover the costs of closing constituency offices, the PA news agency understands.
The money is available – in some cases automatically – despite each MP already receiving a separate £10,000 payment from parliamentary authorities to set up remote working for their staff.
It is unclear whether MPs intend to apply for the grant or return any payment made.
The funds are part of a package for small businesses unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as the Government attempts to keep companies afloat during what economists predict will be the worst global recession in living memory.
But each politician in England will be entitled to the grant, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) stating that “eligible businesses will be contacted by their local authority”, while others will have to actively apply for the cash.
The Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) is available to companies if they operate from premises that have a rateable value – a calculation used to determine business rates bills – of £15,000 or less.
A separate scheme has also been launched, providing cash grants of up to £25,000 for retail, leisure and hospitality buildings affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
When Mr Sunak announced the scheme, he said: “Businesses have fixed costs that we will target support at – most of these have two major fixed costs: rent and staff.”
Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at real estate adviser Altus Group, said MPs do not need the cash grants and are not facing financial ruin as a result of the pandemic.
He added: “They receive a budget going towards renting and running their constituency office whilst staffing costs are also provided for to meet the cost of the staff who support MPs.”
Rates have been a hot topic for retailers for several years, with many complaining that the commercial property tax is unfairly calculated.
But since the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Sunak has also announced a 100% rates holiday for several different business sectors, including retail and leisure.
The rates package was welcomed by industries, but supermarket giant Tesco faced criticism after bosses agreed to pay out a £900 million dividend at the same time as it benefited from a £650 million rates holiday.