We recognise that some offices will be impacted by constituency boundary changes after the next election.
To ensure that IPSA is providing the right level of support to help offices through these changes, the IPSA Board has agreed on the following measures.
Constituency office moves
If an MP is re-elected, but their constituency office falls outside of the new constituency boundary, IPSA will provide a £6,000 start-up supplement to the office costs budget. This is to assist them in setting up a new office and is in line with the uplift provided to newly elected MPs.
If the constituency office still falls within the new boundary, but the MP wishes to move the office to a more suitable location following boundary changes – for example, to be more centrally located or more accessible to constituents – they can make an application for contingency funding up to a maximum of £6,000 to facilitate the move. We will ask for an explanation of the rationale, which the Contingency Panel will consider. We will provide more information and guidance on this in due course.
Under the Scheme rules, for a constituency office to be funded by IPSA, it must be within the constituency, or within 20 miles of the boundary. If, after the boundary has changed, MPs need to move office to remain compliant with the Scheme, we will allow a transition period of six months after the election for this to happen.
If you encounter any difficulties with moving or if there is a strong justification to delay moving beyond six months, please speak to your Account Manager.
In all cases where an MP moves their constituency office, they must ensure value for money, and the expectation is that wherever possible they will transfer equipment, furniture, signage, and other items to the new office.
Similarly, under the Scheme rules, constituency accommodation must be within the constituency, or within 20 miles of the boundary, to be funded by IPSA.
If after the boundary has changed an MP needs to move their constituency accommodation to stay compliant with the Scheme, we will allow a transition period of six months after the election for this to happen.
If you encounter any difficulties with moving or if there is a strong justification to delay moving for some time, please speak to your Account Manager.
Additional commuting costs
Staff who continue working for the same MP after the election may have a new work location because of a constituency office move. This may impact travel time and could lead to a more expensive commute.
To support staff through this transition, IPSA will allow claims for the additional costs for commuting that staff incur as a result of an office move – meaning the amount over and above what they were paying to commute to the previous office location – for three months following an office move. This could relate to additional mileage or public transport fares.
Any additional time spent commuting is considered to be personal time and not part of a staff member’s contractual working hours. Claims for additional commuting costs would be taxable, meaning that tax will be deducted when the amount is reimbursed to the staff member.
We will need to make some changes to our systems to facilitate these claims, and we will provide further detailed guidance in due course.
Redundancy as a result of office relocation
Where a staff member’s commute is extended beyond a “reasonable distance” due to an office move, they may be entitled to redundancy.
What is considered to be a “reasonable distance” could relate to additional time and/or cost, is not the same for everyone, and may be based on an individual’s particular circumstances. However, in most cases, an additional 45 minutes on the journey is the benchmark considered in these circumstances.
MPs must seek advice from the Members’ HR Service to confirm whether a possible redundancy situation has arisen and to ensure they follow a legally correct process. IPSA is unable to give employment advice.
It is possible for staff members to agree to stay on, even where the office move extends their commute beyond a “reasonable distance”. However, Members’ HR has said it is advisable for MPs and staff to agree to a trial period of three months so both parties can try out the new arrangements.
As above, the staff member could claim for the additional costs relating to their extended commute during the three months. Either party can decide to end the arrangement during or at the end of that trial period, and the staff member would retain the right to redundancy.
Any right to redundancy pay is calculated when their job was deemed potentially redundant and before any trial period starts.
Not all office moves will result in a possible redundancy situation. If a staff member chooses to leave the MP’s employment for other reasons – for example, to take another job – they will be considered to have resigned and will not be entitled to redundancy. IPSA will only process redundancies that have been confirmed by Members’ HR.
In all cases, staff members must have at least two years’ service with the same MP employer at the point their job is deemed redundant to qualify for a redundancy payment.
Where a returning MP makes a role redundant following the election, the relevant costs will be allocated to the staffing budget as normal under the Scheme rules. However, if the redundancy arose as a direct result of constituency boundary changes (for example due to office relocation), the MP can make an application to move these costs to the contingency budget. We will ask for an explanation of the circumstances and how the redundancy was unavoidable.
We will provide more information and guidance on this in due course.
Continuity of service
Where a staff member remains employed with the same MP after constituency boundary changes and/or office relocation, they will retain continuity of service. They would not receive a redundancy payment, but any future redundancy entitlement would take into account the whole period of their employment with that MP.
However, when a staff member moves to a role with a different MP, they do not retain continuity of service. This is because, legally, each MP is an individual employer, and staff who move from one MP to another are moving from one employer to a new one. Where a role is made redundant, a staff member with two years’ service has a statutory (and contractual) right to a redundancy payment, but accordingly does not retain continuous service when moving to a new employer.
We understand that this is an issue of concern for staff members. Continuous service is a concept set out in employment law, and as such IPSA is unable to ‘grant’ continuous service to staff. We are, however, actively exploring whether there is a way for IPSA to mitigate some of the negative impacts on staff which are due to the legal employment arrangements, for example through contractual terms.
This is a complex area, and we want to understand fully the issues for both employer and employee before proposing any changes. We will, of course, engage with MPs and their staff on proposals before decisions are made.