Milton Keynes MP Ben Everitt rejects fresh criticism over finances after it emerges he's being paid £1,000 a month to be a councillor - for an area outside of MK
Labour councillors have criticised the payments on top of his MP's salary but MP says he could not step down as councillor due to pandemic
Earlier this week the MK Citizen revealed the MK North MP, who lives in Newton Longville, was claiming almost £2,800 a month for a second home in London, less than an hour's commute away.
His is the seventh highest second home allowance claim out of the 650 MPs in Parliament.
Following a complaint from a constituent, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) examined his claim and said he was not breaching any rules about MP expenses. See the MK Citizen story here.
It has now been revealed that Mr Everitt also earned £27,000 - an average of almost £2,250 a month - from other pursuits during the 16 months he has served as an MP.
When he was elected as MP for MK North in December 2019, he was already a councillor on Aylesbury Vale District Council for the ward of Great Brickhill and Newton Longville, which comes under the Buckingham constituency of MP Greg Smith.
Mr Everitt continued to serve on the council, where members received an annual allowance of around £5,700 a year.
In April last year Aylesbury Vale was dissolved and replaced with the unitary authority, Buckinghamshire Council, and Mr Everitt and fellow councillors had their basic allowance increased to £13,000 a year to cover the extra responsibilities.
The was on top of his basic salary as an MP of £82,000 a year, and now the dual workload has sparked accusations that he should not be paid to represent two different sets of constituents in two different areas.
Mr Everitt has fully declared the money on Parliament's Register of Members' Financial Interests, stating he spends between 15 and 20 hours a month on his work as a councillor. He says he intends of stand down from Buckinghamshire Council next month and only stayed on the extra year because the Covid pandemic meant a by-election was impossible.
Meanwhile, also declared in the Register is Mr Everitt's earnings of almost £190 an hour from his consultancy firm called Weble Ltd. Set up in March 2020, three months after he became an MP, the venture has so far earned him almost £15,000 - another £1,250 a month.
The Register declares he is "retained via Weble Ltd" to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), where he worked as Head of Strategy before his MP election.
Mr Everitt's entry for Weble on the Register states: "I receive £15,000 a year, paid quarterly, for an expected annual time commitment of 60-80 hrs".
Added together, the MP salary, the councillors' allowance and the Weble earnings come to more than £9,000 a month. This does not including expenses claims.
Councillor Emily Darlington, Labour Cabinet member on MK Council, said: "Since being elected as Member of Parliament for MK North, Ben has claimed over £12,000 of taxpayers' money in Buckinghamshire while at the same time claiming expenses for being a Milton Keynes MP.
She added: “He is paid almost £82,000 a year as an MP. Yet he never resigned from his other position as a councillor outside Milton Keynes and he set up a consultancy months after being elected by the people of MK.”
“Ben has continued to sit on Bucks Council and pocket cash for representing two lots of people in different places at the same time. He even took a large pay rise when AVDC became Bucks Council. It will be interesting to know what people think."
Mr Everitt told the Citizen in response to Labour's comments: "I was due to step down from the council last year, but the elections were cancelled because of the pandemic.
"Due to coronavirus, we haven’t been able to have by-elections and given that two of the four other councillors covering the area resigned and were not replaced, I stayed on an extra year.
"I’m stepping down from the council at these elections. Being a councillor is a wonderful role and it’s fantastic to be able help people, I’ve loved it. But it has been a very busy year."
He added: "I concluded my contract with my former employer in January,"
Earlier this week, when asked about his second home claim, the father-of-three said: “The parliamentary regulator approved my accommodation and has subsequently replied to this constituent's inquiry reaffirming that everything is in order."
Last November, Mr Everitt was one of 50 MPs who wanted to turn down their 4.1 per cent pay increase, which added £3,300 a year to the average member's salary.
He said at the time: "When so many of our constituents are facing uncertainty, it is only right that we help shoulder the burden.
“The whole country has sacrificed so much this year throughout the coronavirus pandemic and with so many people are living with uncertainty in their lives."
He added: “We all need to come together and it would be wrong for us as MPs to receive a pay rise so I hope IPSA will agree to scrap the proposed increase.”