MP’s office claims 90p for drive to job centre - six minutes walk away

THE office of Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis submitted a 90p expenses claim for a return car journey to JobCentre Plus, less than a third of a mile from his constituency office.

Mr Lewis has defended the claim for the trip from his office at Fastolff House in Regent Street to the Jobcentre in The Conge, stating a member of his staff had borrowed his Peugeot and submitted the claim.

But the journey is less than a third of a mile to walk, taking around six minutes at a leisurely pace.

Mr Lewis told the Mercury he was not in the car.

He added the staff member had driven to meet him on a day of appointments, where he was seeing eastern region Jobcentre bosses to discuss the job situation in Norfolk.

The appointment also formed part of his work with the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

Records logged by expenses regulator the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) show the legitimate claim for a two mile car journey was accepted, and 90p was paid.

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Mr Lewis said: “I walked, but my staff drove there to take me somewhere else.

“I only claim when driving from Norfolk to Westminster and back - I’m pretty sure I’ve never claimed for driving around the constituency.

“It’s not good that they claimed a journey of 90p, but it’s part of a claim for a week’s mileage.”

He added that the journey on June 22, 2011 only appeared as an individual journey - and not grouped with the rest of the week’s travel - due to a quirk in how expenses are logged.

Records list the expenses type as “own car MP”, and Mr Lewis explained the vehicle in question is his Peugeot campaign car - which is sprayed with his name and details.

All staff using the car must claim for mileage in the MP’s name, and Mr Lewis stressed that he walks and cycles rather than driving whenever he can.

“I don’t normally claim but one of my staff was using the car and claims go in my name,” he said.

“I would normally walk it.”

He added he was unhappy that the claim has been singled out as “one of [his] staff made a legitimate claim” while many others across the country have had to pay back thousands of illegitimate claims.