Celia Barlow’s finances have come under scrutiny from the Telegraph in its latest round of MPs’ expenses revelations.
Hove MP Miss Barlow has made political capital out of the fact that last year she claimed nothing last year in second home allowances, choosing to get the train back from Westminster to her constituency instead.
But the Telegraph today reveals she took advantage of the system to make extensive renovations to her Hove home and claim moving costs, including stamp duty. The total paid out was more than £28,000.
This was despite telling the Commons Fees Office the £550,000 Hove property would become her main home.
The Labour MP initially claimed £29,399 for stamp duty, mortgage broker’s fees and legal fees and removal costs, of which £13,881was paid.
In the next financial year, from May 2006 to October 2006, she was paid £15,042 for renovations, storage and more removals.
The renovations include redecorating two bathrooms, £1,000 for electrical work, £540 for gardening, and £520 for removing a shed from her new garden and getting rid of unwanted concrete.
Last week, she told The Argus she had “no idea” how people would react if they learnt the full details of her expense claims.
However, today she told The Telegraph that all the claims had been made with the agreement of the fees office.
She said the fees office had asked if she intended to make the Hove address her main home when she nominated it as her second after buying it in January 2006.
She added: “I said that I probably would do so which I did after the move to Hove was concluded. I was advised to claim for the cost of moving into the Hove home.”
She also said the porch was installed for security reasons, one bathroom was bare and the other had a broken lavatory.
Miss Barlow said the move took time because her children went to school in Chichester.
Breakdown of claims and payouts for the Hove home
- January 2006 - £29,399 for stamp duty, mortgage broker’s fees and legal fees and removal costs. £13,881 was paid.
- May 2006 - £1,437 for moving furniture
- July 2006 - £5,565 claim, including £2,321 for “alterations to two bathrooms”, £502 for storage, £294 bill for a bed and a chair. She was paid all but £446, because receipts for furniture dated back to the last allowance year, making the total £5,119.
- July 2006 - £1,060 for gardening, removing a wooden shed and concrete and installing a porch door. £520 was rejected, but it is not clear if the balance was paid or not.
- August 2006 – £5,183 claim on second homes allowance, including £2,458 for bathroom goods from Bathstore including a lavatory, basin, shower valve and “high lustre silver” bath screen. She was paid £4,935.
- October 2006 – Another claim of £4,181 including £458 for a whirlpool bath, £574 for more bathroom goods and £1,183 for electrical services. She was paid £3,570. By this time, she had hit the maximum amount claimable in a financial year, £22,110, five months early.