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TDs are able to claim back office energy bills from taxpayer-funded allowance

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Philip RyanIndependent.ie

TDs can claim the cost of their constituency office energy bills under a taxpayer-funded allowance for public representatives.

The €20,350 a year allowance can also be used to pay for some of their domestic electricity and gas bills if they use part of their home as a constituency office.

Public Representatives All- owance (PRA) is paid to all TDs and senators every year. Senators can claim €12,225 and cabinet ministers and ministers of state can claim up to €16,000.

The funding can be spent on a range of bills associated with being a politician, such as renting premises, paying interest on office mortgages, furniture and computer equipment.

It can also be used to pay for utility bills associated with running an office, including electricity, gas, heating oil or any other fuels. TDs who use their home as an office can claim a percentage of their energy bills.

Official guidance on the allowance states home utility bill claims should be made on a “reasonable basis”.

“For example, if 10pc of the home is used as your constituency office, 10pc of your utility bills are allowable,” it says.

The allowance is vouched and TDs are required to hold on to bills for at least five years.

While the scheme is audited every year, only 10pc – or 16 TDs – are randomly selected to be audited and asked to produce receipts for their expense claims.

All TDs are asked to sign a declaration every year confirming they have spent their allowance on the appropriate expenses.

Details of the allowance come as the Government will next month pay every household in the country a €200 energy credit due to the rising cost-of-living crisis sparked by record levels of inflation.

A payment of the same amount will also be taken off bills in January and March as part of a range of measures aimed at tackling the rising cost of energy following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

TDs cannot claim the support on their constituency offices, but will receive the discount from their home electricity bills.

They also cannot claim the Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme (TBESS), which gives small and medium-sized enterprises up to €10,000 off their energy bills.

However, the PRA is a significant support for TDs who will face rocketing energy bills for their constituency offices in the same way as the public will for their homes and businesses.

The Cabinet was recently told energy bills could in- crease by €6,000 due to the ongoing crisis.

The TDs’ allowance scheme was in place long before the cost-of-living crisis escalated to its current level, with bills predicted to put serious pressure on household finances.

TDs are entitled to a range of allowances along with their €105,271 salary.

In addition to the PRA, they also get a Travel and Accommodation Allowance (TAA), which is calculated on the distance between a politician’s home and Leinster House.

Members of the Rural Independent Dáil grouping are the top three with the highest expense claims in the Dáil.

Michael Collins, of Cork South West, and Michael and Danny Healy-Rae, both Kerry, claimed €53,745 each last year, according to figures published by the Oireachtas.

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns, Sinn Féin’s Rose Conway-Walsh, Fine Gael’s Michael Creed and Brendan Griffin and Fianna Fáil’s Aindrias Moynihan and Christopher O’Sullivan claimed more than €53,000 in expenses.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty and Pa Daly and Fianna Fáil’s Michael Moynihan claimed more than €52,000.


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