Peterborough MP angered by article on housing expenses

The MP for Peterborough has hit out at a newspaper article which highlighted how he rents out three properties in London while claiming expenses for the property he rents in Peterborough.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 2:56 pm
Paul Bristow

Paul Bristow was angered by a story in The Observer which said he claimed £10,500 on a rental property in Peterborough between April and November 2020 despite being a landlord of multiple properties in the capital.

The MP said the newspaper had made a “false” implication against him and stressed that he “followed both the letter and the spirit of the rules which were written to avoid MPs profiting from subsidised mortgages”.

There is no implication that Mr Bristow has broken any rules. Instead, The Observer was attacking Conservative MPs for claiming taxpayer-funded rental expenses while the Tory Government freezes the local housing allowance benefit this month.

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The paper argued that this will result in a real-terms cut for private sector tenants on low incomes due to rental rates increasing.

MPs who are not based in London are allowed to claim rental costs for a property either in their constituency or in the capital.

Mr Bristow’s latest expenses show he claims £1,500 a month for his residency in Peterborough, which he rents.

The Parliament Register of Members’ Financial Interests also reveals that he owns two flats and a house in London.

The MP, who declined to comment for the article in The Observer, told the Peterborough Telegraph that he refused to evict tenants during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “The Observer implied that I claim rent in London while renting out other London properties. This is completely false.

“Ever since moving back to Peterborough several years ago I have always rented. But for family reasons I own the property that I use when I’m at Westminster.

“So that my ex wife was able to buy a home of her own I bought her out of properties we had lived in the past. I am certainly not going to sell a property underneath tenants, making them homeless in a pandemic.

“The current system for MPs says to rent one home or use hotels. I’ve followed both the letter and the spirit of the rules which were written to avoid MPs profiting from subsidised mortgages.”

Mr Bristow’s predecessor as MP for Peterborough, Labour’s Lisa Forbes, claimed £1,682.80 in October and November 2019 for hotel stays in London during her brief time in the role.

Before that, Fiona Onasanya, who was elected as a Labour MP before having the whip removed, claimed £7,852.61 for rental accommodation in her final full year in Parliament.