The grasping hypocrisy of MPs claiming £200,000 in a year for their energy bills is today laid bare in a shocking Sunday Mirror investigation.
Top of the heap is a millionaire Tory who claimed a staggering £5,822 in just 12 months – more than four times the average household energy bill – to power and heat his £1million constituency home in a sprawling 31-acre estate.
Nadhim Zahawi and his wife run a riding school and he is a director of a number of firms. He also owns a £5million detached home in London.
The Stratford-upon-Avon MP even boasts on his website of his “achievements” on the Energy Bill Committee at improving “energy efficiency measures to homes and businesses”.
But what he was most efficient at this year was making sure he claimed £4,557 for electricity and £1,265 for heating oil in the year to March.
Then there is Government minister Alan Duncan. Last week he said he accepted that people “do not like paying high bills”, but he was against Labour’s energy price freeze.
He branded Ed Miliband’s policy “as deceitful as it is stupid”. He described a policy to help millions as “a scam”.
Today we reveal energy bills are no worry for Mr Duncan, International Development Minister and MP for Rutland and Melton. He claimed £2,750 for electricity bills and £1,250 for heating oil at his second constituency home.
Mr Duncan, once filmed complaining that MPs were being treated like “s***”, also owns a £1million mews house in Westminster.
Zahawi – an ally of David Cameron tipped for promotion – and Duncan, and the hundreds of others whose energy claims are listed on these pages are not breaking any Commons rules.
But these MPs – some ministers and millionaires easily able to afford the bills – face a bigger moral question as millions of voters struggle to meet rising gas and electricity prices. Dave Prentis, whose UNISON union represents 1.3million hard-up public service workers, told us: “It’s disgraceful that well-paid MPs should make these claims as thousands of families are struggling to pay to turn the oven on to cook dinner.
“These are the same hypocritical MPs who have failed to get a grip on soaring fuel and energy costs, rising food bills and pay freezes.
“But in the end it’s a moral decision down to them and their consciences.”
Cancer sufferer Gail Lunde, 52, received a grant from Macmillan Cancer Support earlier this year because she could not to afford to heat her north London home. She said last night: “MPs charging us to heat their homes is morally wrong. It’s absolute hypocrisy and I can’t believe they’ve got the nerve.”
Our investigation comes after new research shows eight out of 10 households will be forced to ration their energy this winter and an influential campaign group fears 200 pensioners a day could die because they can’t afford to heat their homes.
Clare Welton, of Fuel Poverty Action, said: “When the Government’s only response to millions of people not being able to afford their fuel bills is to tell us to change supplier or wear a jumper, it is outrageous to see MPs claiming hefty amounts of taxpayer money to pay for their own bills.
“It is little wonder that many MPs have done nothing to tackle fuel poverty in this country when they are immune from the price hikes by the profit-hungry Big Six energy companies.
“Thousands of people will die this winter in cold homes but we know the MPs will be keeping nice and warm in their first and second homes.”
The MPs’ utility bills expenses are revealed in documents from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) between April 2012 and March 2013.
MPs claimed a total of £23million in personal expenses in this period – but it is the payments made towards energy bills which will spark fury.
See the full list of who claimed what – read on for the headlines.
In total, 41 politicians claimed more than £1,000 for power and heat and a further 78 MPs more than £500 in the 12 months up to March this year.
A number of other Government ministers feature in the top 10 of the biggest claims according to IPSA records, which detail claims for MPs’ designated second homes which could be a London residence or constituency home.
Universities minister David Willetts, reportedly worth £1.9million, claimed £2,596 for his West London house which is worth £1.3million. His constituency home in Hampshire is worth £300,000.
In 2009 it emerged Mr Willetts billed the taxpayer £115 plus VAT for workmen to replace 25 light bulbs at the London property. Mr Willetts’ spokeswoman yesterday refused to comment.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller, who has previously been investigated over expenses, claimed £2,011 on electricity bills in the 12-month period on a £970,000 constituency home in Basingstoke, which she rents.
Last year the office of John Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, launched an inquiry after a complaint that Mrs Miller had claimed more than £90,000 in second home allowances towards the cost of a house where her parents lived. The minister defended her expenses saying “everything’s in order”.
Conservative Elizabeth Truss, who is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, claimed £2,579 in gas and electricity bills in a year. Mrs Truss was elected MP for South West Norfolk after working in the energy and telecommunications industry for 10 years.
Andrew Robathan, who was Minister of State for Armed Forces until last month, claimed £4,586.80 for the 12 months to March.
Mr Robathan owns a mortgage-free £1.5million house in London which he bought for £700,000 in 2004 and a mortgage-free farm in Leicestershire which he bought for £1million in 2001.
Following the expenses scandal he said he would not be able to afford to run a second home if there was not a system in which the state helped.
Ex-Labour Cabinet minister Peter Hain claimed £4,571 on his designated second home in his South Wales constituency. He said he no choice because the property only uses expensive heating oil.
Old Etonian Hugo Swire, minister of state for the Foreign Office, claimed a total of £3,198 on gas and oil in 12 months on his second home. Writing in his local paper, the Tory MP for East Devon said: “The reason we are not introducing a price freeze is it simply won’t work. If we want the lights to stay on, consumers and taxpayers are, by some means or other, going to have to pay for it.”
Conservative MP Tim Yeo, who has temporarily stepped aside as chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, claimed £979.68 on gas and electricity on his London flat. Last year he said an extra £3 a week on fuel bills was a “reasonable price” to pay for green and nuclear power.
Mr Yeo is being investigated over claims he used his role as chairman of the influential committee to help a private company influence Parliament. He strongly rejects the allegations.
The MP for South Suffolk has supplemented his Commons salary with £200,000 from highly paid private sector jobs, including energy firms.
Dame Margaret Beckett, who has been Labour MP for Derby South since 1983, claimed £3,960 on gas and electricity on her constituency home. Mrs Beckett said there was “ill health in her family” for the period covering the expenses claim which meant being in the house longer and having the heating higher.
Sir Edward Leigh, a Tory MP since 1983, claimed £3,337 for gas and electricity for his designated second home.
Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed £403 on utility bills while Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg put in expenses for £254.
David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne do not claim on bills on their Downing Street residences.
The maximum an MP can claim for their second home allowance in a year is £20,100 and this figure includes claims for gas and electricity bills. Costs also include rent, hotel stays, council tax, service charges, phone and internet.
Last night the results of our investigation were greeted with anger. Unison chief Mr Prentis said: “If 310 MPs did the right thing by choosing not to claim expenses for fuel bills, why did the other 340 think they were entitled to free fuel?”
He said: “Pensioners will be disgusted at how out of touch many MPs are, when many older people will have to choose between heating and eating.”
Independent Age’s head of policy and campaigns Andy Kaye said: “This comes at the very point the Government is dragging its heels over above-inflation increases in fuel prices. The news will dismay thousands of older people who are living on small, fixed incomes.”
Before the latest round of price hikes, average bills for householders across the UK were at a record £1,320. It is estimated that it will rise to £1,465.
Npower is hitting dual-fuel customers with a 10.4 per cent rise from December 1, while those with British Gas face a 9.2 per cent increase from November 23.
Scottish Power is raising prices by 8.6 per cent from December 6 and an 8.2 per cent rise announced by SSE will come in from November 15. It is feared the other firms will follow with rises.
Bosses from the Big Six were quizzed by the Energy Committee earlier this week and Energy Secretary Ed Davey has told MPs he is looking at changing the law on fixing prices.
Mr Davey came under fire for suggesting people should wear jumpers to save on bills while Sarah Newton, deputy chairman of the Tory Party, has written an energy-saving guide for constituents telling them to shut their curtains.
Labour MP John Mann, who has not submitted any claims for his bills, said: “Perhaps the MPs who have submitted the claims should start wearing thicker jumpers. Sunday Mirror readers will be outraged.”