Four Northamptonshire MPs cost taxpayers nearly £800,000 last year, according new figures reveal.
Figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority showed Northampton's Conservative MPs Michael Ellis and Andrew Lewer, South Northamptonshire's Dame Andrea Leadsom and Chris Heaton-Harris, the Daventy MP, racked up a combined £780,000 in business costs for the 2020-21 financial year.
Mr Lewer and Mrs Leadsom were both well above the average for all MPs of £203,880 — and more than double the £80,000 spent by Kettering's MP Philip Hollobone.
Business costs are the essential costs incurred by MPs while carrying out their parliamentary duties including staffing, office costs and travel.
MPs cannot claim for personal costs, such as food and drink, during their normal working day, and all claims must be compliant with IPSA rules and accompanied by evidence.
IPSA’s chairman, Richard Lloyd, said compliance with the rules by all MPs was at 99.7 percent last year.
He added: “By far the largest area of spending is to pay for the salaries of MPs’ staff.
"In the last financial year MPs and their staff changed how they work to provide their constituents with a service during the pandemic.
“We enabled MPs’ staff to work from home, while the amount spent on parliamentary business travel fell to reflect different working patterns."
The IPSA figures also reveal the 158 individual claims totalling £237,342.53 made by Northampton South MP Mr Lewer in 2020-21, with the most expensive single item being £179,366.33 for staff payroll.
He spent £25,100 of his of £28,400 accommodation budget and a further £3,800 on travel and subsistence in a total business outlay of £237,342.53.
At the other end of the scale, the smallest one-off expense the 50-year-old claimed was £2.98 for stationery and printing.
Northampton North MP Mr Ellis' business costs for the 2020-21 financial year were £151,309.90 — down from £170,726.88 the year before. This included £123,900 on staff wages and £22,100 on accommodation.
Andrea Leadsom's business bills totted up to £205,365.10 including £172,500 spent on staff but nothing on accommodation, while Minister for Europe Mr Heaton-Harris' spend was £188,945.74 with £147,400 spent on wages and £23,000 on accommodation.
The total costs of all 650 MPs last year rose by four percent to £132.5 million with almost £300,000 going on hotel claims for just 49 members.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It’s important MPs have the resources to do their jobs, but many taxpayers will be worried about the soaring cost of politics.
“The electorate expects politicians to stay grounded and keep costs under control, particularly given the Covid pandemic saw many MPs and their staff work from home.
“With taxpayers facing a cost of living crisis, politicians should be doing their utmost to keep their spending down.”
■ Andrew Lewer's five largest types of costs:
Payroll – costing £179,366.33
Rent – £36,568.00
Pooled Staffing Services – £5,047.00
Advertising and contact cards – £4,445.00
Mileage - car – £3,470.40
■ Michael Ellis's five largest types of costs:
Payroll – costing £123,854.06
Rent – £22,929.00
Utilities – £1,117.37
Equipment - purchase – £1,050.95
Software & applications – £600.00
■ Andrea Leadsom's five largest types of costs:
Payroll – costing £172,511.31
Rent – £10,980.00
Stationery & printing – £3,511.99
Postage & couriers – £3,130.69
Pooled Staffing Services – £3,056.00
■ Chris Heaton-Harris's five largest types of costs:
Payroll – costing £143,817.71
Rent – £24,100.00
Stationery & printing – £4,089.10
Pooled Staffing Services – £3,047.00
Mileage - car – £2,371.30
Editor's note: This story has been updated. An earlier version stated that "Mr Heaton-Harris' figure was the lowest of the Tory quartet". This was incorrect. The lowest spend was Michael Ellis.