The homeworking allowance is payable to MPs’ staff members who are working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, to cover homeworking costs such as telephone, internet, electricity and gas usage. These amounts will be paid directly to relevant staff members through the payroll, with the costs allocated to the office costs budget. [6.31]
The homeworking allowance amount is £26 per month. Payment of this amount will be pro-rated for staff members who start or end their employment during a month. [6.32]
In respect of a staff member in receipt of the homeworking allowance, IPSA will not accept claims (or will seek repayment of claims already paid) [under paragraphs 6.6 and 6.16] for costs that are incurred as a result of homeworking and are additional to those which are part of the normal cost of living in the home, including:
a. energy and water bills
b. contents insurance, or
c. rental and usage costs for telephone and internet access [6.33]
The homeworking allowance is an alternative to making individual claims under paragraph 6.6 and 6.16 of the Scheme. Staff members must be working from home to be eligible for the allowance but do not have to register their home as an office.
The monthly amount of £26 has been set by HMRC as the maximum that can be paid to employees without evidence of the costs incurred.
The homeworking allowance will be administered through the payroll, along with the staff member’s salary.
Our expectation, in line with HMRC guidance is that, generally, the allowance should not be taxable, but a staff member's individual circumstances may mean that they should seek further advice from HMRC.
If individual staff members are not working from home, or do not wish to be in receipt of the homeworking allowance, the employing MP must notify IPSA by the normal monthly deadline for payroll changes (the 15th of each month). This also applies where staff members who were previously in receipt of the homeworking allowance have returned to their normal place of work (the constituency or Westminster office). [6.34]
IPSA may in its discretion determine whether and when to cease payment of the homeworking allowance and will provide reasonable notice, to be published on IPSA's website and communicated to MPs and their staff members. In making such determinations, IPSA will take into consideration Government guidance relating to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as other relevant considerations. [6.35]