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					8/14/12          Chris Grayling claimed for London flat despite nearby constituency home: MPs expenses - Telegraph




    Chris Grayling claimed for London flat despite nearby constituency home:
    MPs expenses

    Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary claimed thousands of pounds to renovate a
    flat in central London – bought with a mortgage funded at taxpayers’ expense, even
    though his constituency home is less than 17 miles from the House of Commons.




    Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, has his constituency in Surrey Photo: PA


    By Holly Watt and Gordon Rayner
    7:15AM BST 11 May 2009



    Mr Grayling, who represents Epsom and Ewell, lives in a large house in Ashtead, Surrey, but also
    claims expenses for a flat in Pimlico, near the House of Commons. Mr Grayling also owns other
    buy-to-let flats and now has four properties within the M25.

    The disclosure is particularly embarrassing for the Conservatives as Mr Grayling is the party’s
    “attack dog” who has criticised a series of Labour ministers implicated in sleaze scandals.

    Within weeks of first being elected in 2001, he bought a flat in a six-storey block for £127,000. In
    2002, he set up an unusual arrangement with the Parliamentary Fees Office, claiming £625 a month
    for mortgages on two separate properties, both the main home and the new flat in Pimlico. This is
    usually against the rules, but Mr Grayling negotiated an agreement because he was unable to obtain
    a 100% mortgage on the London flat that he had bought.

    This arrangement ended in May 2006.

    Over the summer of 2005, Mr Grayling undertook a complete refurbishment of the flat. Shortly
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8/14/12          Chris Grayling claimed for London flat despite nearby constituency home: MPs expenses - Telegraph


    after the general election in May, Mr Grayling claimed £4,250 for redecorating and £1,561 for a
    new bathroom.

    The next month, he claimed £1,341 for new kitchen units and in July, he claimed a further £1,527
    for plumbing and £1,950 for work that included rewiring the flat throughout. It is thought to have
    risen substantially in value since then.

    During the 2005-06 financial year, Mr Grayling claimed close to the maximum allowance for
    MPs.

    However, in the following financial year he continued to submit receipts for the work that had been
    carried out the previous year.

    This effectively allowed him to spread the costs over two years – whereas he would have been
    unable to claim all the costs in the 2005-06 financial year. For example, in June 2006, Mr Grayling
    submitted an invoice for £3,534 for service and maintenance on his block of flats, which included a
    service charge of £1,148 and a “balance brought forward” of £1,956.

    This was paid by the House of Commons authorities in the 2006-07 financial year, although the
    invoice refers to “Tax point: 22 Feb 2006” and refers to costs carried out in the 2005-06 financial
    year.

    A handwritten note on the invoice informed the fees office to “Please note this has only just been
    issued, date notwithstanding.”

    In July 2006, Mr Grayling submitted a claim for £2,250. The invoice from the decorator was dated
    July 2006, and referred to “remedial and refurbishment works July 2005”.

    On the claim form, Mr Grayling stated: “Decorator has been very ill & didn’t invoice me until
    now.”

    If the various late receipts had been submitted in the 2005-06 financial year, they would have
    exceeded Mr Grayling’s second home allowance for the 12-month period by over £4,700.

    However, they were still paid by the Fees Office.

    Mr Grayling has a sizeable property portfolio. The Pimlico flat, which is only a short walk from the
    Commons is believed to have risen in value despite the recession. A studio flat in the same block is
    currently on sale for £235,000.

    On the Parliamentary register of interests, Mr Grayling declares that he rents out two further

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8/14/12          Chris Grayling claimed for London flat despite nearby constituency home: MPs expenses - Telegraph


    houses that he owns in London.

    The family home he shares with wife Sue and their two children in Ashtead is inside the M25 and in
    the heart of Surrey’s commuter belt. The imposing house with its sweeping drive and grounds cost
    £680,000 in 2000.

    Mr Grayling defended his claims last night and said that using one of his existing properties would
    not have saved the taxpayer money. “I needed two loans to buy my London flat in 2001,” he said.

    “One was the standard maximum loan available for a second property and the second was to pay for
    the 20 per cent deposit. In addition to serving my constituents, I have spent several years serving in
    the shadow cabinet, currently as the shadow home secretary.

    “A second home enables me to meet those commitments. I have always been entirely open to my
    constituents about this.”

    Commenting on why claims for renovating the London property were submitted a year late, he said:
    “These claims were made at the point which I received the invoices. I made this clear to the fees
    office at the time.”


      Chris Grayling



    Job: shadow home secretary

    Salary: £64,766

    Total second home claims

    2004-05: £12,738

    2005-06: £20,616

    2006-07: £19,618

    2007-08: £15,332


    © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012




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Description: Chris Grayling claimed thousands of pounds to renovate a flat in central London even though his constituency home was less than 17 miles from the House of Commons