Come On Sunday Times – MPs’ Expense Claims Have Fallen, Not Risen

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Someone really ought to let the Sunday Times in on a little secret. There’s something called inflation out there. Money is worth ever less every year. This means that when you compare numbers over time you’ve got to be careful. Because what is a higher nominal sum may in fact be a lower real sum. As is true with MPs’ expenses claims:

MPs’ expenses scandal: claims hit new high

Well, no, not really.

MPs are claiming 22% more in taxpayer-funded expenses than they did a decade ago when the scandal was first exposed. A Sunday Times investigation reveals that the total claimed by MPs has risen by more than a fifth to £116m since details first emerged about parliament’s corrupt expenses regime.

22% rise, eh? And what was inflation over the period?

UK Inflation Rate, £100 in 2009 to 2018
According to the Office for National Statistics composite price index, prices in 2018 are 30.68% higher than average prices throughout 2009. The pound experienced an average inflation rate of 3.02% per year during this period. In other words, £100 in 2009 is equivalent in purchasing power to £130.68 in 2018, a difference of £30.68 over 9 years.

So, in real terms we’ve had a perhaps 8% fall in MPs’ expenses claims. Which doesn’t make for an interesting newspaper story of course but it is rather closer to the truth of the matter.