Tuesday 19 November 2019

Politicians no longer permitted to claim unvouched expenses

Independent.ie reporters

POLITICIANS in the Dail and Seanad will no longer be able to claim travel or representation allowances on an unvouched basis, public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin confirmed this afternoon.

The controversial and long-standing unvouched system will end for each of the 166 members of the Dáil, and the 60 members of the Seanad.

It is understood that the abolition will affect 51 of the 166 TDs, and 44 of the 60 members of the Seanad, who currently claim their allowances on an unvouched basis.

Speaking as he outlined his half of the budget changes, Mr Howlin said it was “untenable to have a system of unvouched expenses” given the current difficulties facing the state.

However, the move may yet cost the taxpayer more money than the previous system. That is because politicians who vouch for the expenses currently can claim a lot more than those who have been taking the unvouched option.

The 51 TDs who currently opt for the unvouched model are currently entitled to receive €15,000 a year. However, politicians who vouch for their expenses currently receive up to €25,700 per year.

Senators who use a vouched system are able to claim almost €6,000 more than those who use the unvouched option.

The expenses that are being hit are the Public Representation Allowance, which covers the costs of running a constituency office, and the Travel and Accommodation Allowance – which is calculated based on a TD’s commute to Dublin.

Both will be cut by 10pc.

Mr Howlin also announced a 10 per cent flat-rate cut to the ‘party leaders’ allowance’, a payment made to each political party and to independent TDs and Senators to fund their political research operations.

This will affect Independent TDs who are entitled to claim €41,152 on top of their salary and expenses.

Mr Howlin also said he would introduce legislation to abolish the two years of severance payments to Ministers after they leave office.

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