Registering an office or home

Overview

Once you have registered your property, you can also claim costs for your office or home.

Find the resources and support you need to register your office or home in IPSA Online, find information about sharing accommodation and homeworking, and learn about office budgets and the costs you can claim.

Scheme rules

The office costs budget is provided to meet the costs of renting, equipping and running MPs’ constituency offices, surgeries, and other activities which support their parliamentary functions, where these costs are not covered by other budgets. [6.1]

All MPs are eligible to claim for office costs, whether or not they rent office premises. [6.2]

Rent cannot be claimed for a home office (and note that such an address will be treated as the MP’s home rather than an office, for travel claims). [6.8]

IPSA will pay for rent on an office only after it has been registered and accompanied by the required documentation including the MP's rental agreement. [6.13]

Claims for the following costs will only be allowed if the constituency or home office has been registered with IPSA, and comply with the requirements set out in Office costs you can claim:

  • energy and water bills

  • business rates (not for home offices)

  • contents insurance

  • buildings insurance (not for home offices)

  • rental and usage costs for telephone and internet access [6.14]

For more information, visit Completing a Property Registration Form.

MPs are entitled to exercise reasonable discretion over claims for items that meet the purposes of the office costs budget, provided that the claims adhere to the fundamental principles and general conditions of the Scheme. [6.4]

They must also observe the conditions set out in Office costs you can claim.

A start-up supplement will be added to the office costs budget of newly elected MPs. It is designed to help new MPs meet the costs of setting up their constituency offices. [6.11]

The start-up supplement is available to new MPs for the duration of the financial year in which they were elected.

If a new MP is elected in the three months before the end of the relevant financial year, IPSA may exercise discretion in rolling forward all or part of the start-up supplement into the office costs budget for the following financial year. [6.12]

MPs can claim for the costs of more than one office provided that they stay within budget.

If you can demonstrate exceptional circumstances, you may be eligible for contingency funding to allow for the operation of more than one office. [6.3]

MPs and their staff may claim for the costs of a home office – if that is where they routinely work from.

IPSA will only pay claims for costs that are additional to those which are part of the normal cost of living in the home.

Staff members cannot claim for costs relating to a home office during the same period in which they are in receipt of the homeworking allowance. [6.6]

To be funded by IPSA, a constituency office must be located in the constituency, unless it is a home office.

A home office can be claimed for even if it is more than 20 miles from the constituency boundary. [6.7]

Rent cannot be claimed for a home office. The location will also be treated as the MP’s home rather than an office for the consideration of any travel claims. [6.8]

This is covered by Requesting additional budget.

For more information on using IPSA Online, visit Applying for contingency funding.

Removal costs for moving to new office premises may be claimed from the contingency budget. No pre-approval is required.

Other costs associated with moving, including any legal costs, must be claimed from the office costs budget. [6.9]

MPs may claim under office costs for "routine security measures", which are those not falling within the recommended or further measures funded from the security assistance budget [6.10]

For more information, visit Security measures & assistance.

When submitting claims for telephone calls, MPs should only claim for that proportion of the costs which has been incurred for parliamentary purposes. [6.34]

MPs may claim for pooled staffing services from either the office costs or staffing budget. [6.35]

Visit Staffing costs and Staffing costs you can claim for more information.

IPSA will not pay claims for any of the following:

  • alcoholic drinks

  • stationery provided by the House of Commons

  • newsletters

  • funding of any material, other than websites, that contains a party-political logo or emblem, or

  • personal accountancy or tax advice [6.5]

If two or more MPs share rental accommodation, they must notify IPSA when they register the property.

The rental agreement must include the name of each MP sharing the accommodation. [4.21]

Each MP will be entitled to the full accommodation costs budget – and all costs claimed should be shared equally between those MPs. [4.22]

Where MPs grant a licence or give permission to any other person to use the constituency office or any part of it (such as a subletting arrangement), a fee must be charged which reflects an appropriate proportion of the rent and other costs incurred.

The fee must be remitted to IPSA in its entirety. [6.18]

The MP must notify IPSA at the start of a subletting/licensee-licensor arrangement, and provide information as required, including:

  • a copy of the subletting/licensee-licensor agreement

  • details of the sublessee/licensee

  • the proportion of the property being sublet or occupied

  • the fee being charged, and

  • the frequency and form of repayment of such fees to IPSA [6.19]

IPSA will not cover any costs directly attributable to use of the office by the sublessee/licensee, including the cost of making good dilapidations or repairs as a result of damage caused by the actions of the sublessee/licensee.

IPSA will not cover costs exceeding the office costs budget limit which arise as a result of the subletting or licence arrangement coming to an end. [6.20]

A homeworking allowance is payable to MPs’ staff members who are required to work from home, 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 budget. [6.28]

The homeworking allowance amount will be the prevailing amount as set out in HMRC guidance as the maximum that can be paid to employees without evidence of the actual costs incurred.

Payment of this amount will be pro-rated for staff members who start or end their employment during a month. [6.29]

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) 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:

  • energy and water bills

  • contents insurance, or

  • rental and usage costs for telephone and internet access. [6.30]

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.

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). [6.31]

From August 2022, the homeworking allowance is only payable to staff members who are on a home-based contract. Allowance costs will be allocated to the staffing budget, rather than the office costs budget, from that date.

For more information visit Homeworking allowance – future arrangements.

Using IPSA Online

The Property Registration Form allows you to register a property with IPSA.

You should use this form to register your constituency office.

  1. Note!

    To complete a Property Registration Form, open IPSA Online.

  2. Step1

    Select the Main menu tab.

  3. Step2

    Select the Forms tab on the left of the screen.

  4. Step3

    Select Property Registration Form.

    You will now be required to complete several fields with information spread over several tabs. Any field marked with a red asterisk is mandatory. You may not need to complete all tabs, these depend on the type of property you are registering.

    Any box marked with an information icon contains important information regarding the registration of your property. Please ensure you read this in each section.

  5. Step4

    The Form ID field will state [NEW] and will be automatically generated when the form is saved.

  6. Step5

    In the Form description field enter a description of what the form is for, following this convention:

    MP Name – First Line of Address – Property Type

  7. Step6

    In the MP or staff name section, in the Type of property field, press the space bar and select the type of property you wish to register.

  8. Step7

    Within the Property details section, in the Type of property field, select the drop-down arrow and select the type of property again.

  9. Step8

    Complete the address details.

  10. Step9

    If registering a Private residence, go straight to the Declaration tab.

    If registering a Home office, go straight to the Home office tab.

    If registering any other property, go to the Tenancy agreement tab.

  11. Step10

    Only complete the Home office tab if you are registering a property as a Home office.

  12. Step11

    In the Date claim to start field, select the Calendar icon and select the relevant date claims for this property will start.

  13. Step12

    To list the costs you wish to claim for, in the next section select the Add button.

  14. Step13

    In the Expense to claim field, enter a description of the expense.

  15. Step14

    In the Percentage to claim field, enter the percentage of the total cost that will be claimed.

  16. Step15

    After entering each expense on separate lines, go straight to the Declaration tab.

  17. Step16

    Only complete the Tenancy agreement tab if you are registering a Constituency office or IPSA funded accommodation.

  18. Step17

    Using the information on your lease or tenancy agreement, complete the fields in the Tenancy agreement section.

  19. Step18

    If this property is replacing a property already registered, select Yes in the Replace current property? field and complete a Property Amendment Form to inform IPSA.

  20. Step19

    In the Shared tenancy section, please select yes or no to tell us if you are sharing the tenancy and select your type of landlord.

  21. Step20

    If you require a deposit loan for the property, select the Deposit Loan tab.

  22. Step21

    Complete the fields of the Deposit Loan with details of the deposit loan you require. The date you enter should be the date you wish the deposit loan to be paid.

  23. Step22

    Select the Payee details tab.

  24. Step23

    When you are in Payee details in the Lease section, complete both fields. If you do not have a signed lease, you should submit the signed lease to us via email after submitting your Property Registration Form. Please include the form number as a reference.

  25. Step24

    If you require IPSA to pay your rent directly, complete all fields in the Direct rental payments section. If you will claim rent via reimbursement claims, go straight to the Landlord details section at the bottom of the page.

  26. Step25

    In the Payee details section, complete all fields to provide the details of who IPSA will be paying.

  27. Step26

    In the Landlord details section, select Add and enter the relevant details.

  28. Step27

    Select the Declaration tab.

  29. Step28

    When in the Declaration tab, in the Additional Information section, enter any further relevant information IPSA should be aware of.

  30. Step29

    Read the Disclaimer.

  31. Step30

    Read the Declaration carefully and make sure you have adhered to it.

  32. Step31

    Select the drop-down arrow below the Declaration and select Yes.

  33. Step32

    Select Save as Draft at the bottom of the screen.

  34. Step33

    To attach a copy of your tenancy agreement and any relevant documents, select the Paperclip icon in the top-right corner of the screen.

  35. Step34

    First select Add a document and then select Property documents from the Document type drop-down.

  36. Step35

    Select Upload and choose the relevant documents from your computer’s documents.

  37. Step36

    Enter a Document title, preferably noting the first line of the address, then select Save and close the document archive.

  38. Step37

    When you are satisfied you have completed the form with all relevant details, Submit at the bottom of the screen.

  39. Step38

    A pop-up will appear informing you the form has successfully been submitted. Note down the IPZZ number for future reference.

The Property Amendment Form allows you to Inform IPSA of any changes to one of your registered properties. Changes may include:

  • amending bank details of a landlord

  • amending rent due dates

  • amending a landlord’s details

  • amending a rent amount

  • cancelling rent payments

  • submitting a lease renewal

  • suspending a rental payment

  • restarting a rental payment

  • leaving an office

  1. Note!

    To complete the Property Amendment Form, open IPSA Online.

  2. Step1

    Select the Forms tab on the left of the screen.

  3. Step2

    Select the Property Amendment Form.

  4. Step3

    The Form ID field will state [NEW] and will be automatically generated when the form is saved.

  5. Step4

    In the Form description field enter a description of what the form is for, following this convention: MP Name – Type of change – Property Type.

  6. Step5

    Select the Registered address field and press the space bar. Select the relevant address you wish to update (ACC is Accommodation and CON is Constituency).

  7. Step6

    Select the Type of change field and press the space bar. Select the type of change you wish to make from the list.

  8. Step7

    In the Change effective from field, select the Calendar icon and select the date the change is effective from.

  9. Step8

    In the Details/description field, type in the changes you wish to make to the registered property. Provide as much detail as possible so IPSA does not have to contact you for further information and hold up the processing of your request.

  10. Step9

    Select Save as Draft at the bottom of the screen.

    This is an important step as the Property documents option doesn’t appear until the form has been saved as draft.

  11. Step10

    To attach a copy of any relevant documents, select the Paperclip icon in the top-right corner of the screen.

  12. Step11

    Select Add a document and select Property documents from the Document type drop-down.

  13. Step12

    Select Upload, then select the relevant documents from your computer’s documents.

  14. Step13

    Enter a Document title, preferably noting the first line of the address, then select Save and close the document archive.

  15. Step14

    When you are satisfied you have completed the form with all relevant details, Submit at the bottom of the screen.

  16. Step15

    A pop-up will appear informing you the form has successfully been submitted. Note down the IPZZ number for future reference.

Guidance

In March 2022, we confirmed the Covid homeworking allowance of £26 per month would temporarily continue for staff members who were working from home, but that we would be reviewing this position over the coming months.

Now that Covid-related restrictions have been lifted, and there is no general work-from-home requirement in place, we have determined it is the right time to end payment of the allowance for the majority of staff members.

The final payment for staff on office-based contracts (including hybrid contracts) will be in July 2022. Staff members who are on home-based contracts will remain eligible for the allowance beyond July.

Why are we making this change?

During the Covid pandemic, the rules set by HMRC about tax relief on the payment of homeworking costs were temporarily loosened, but as of this year have returned to normal.

This means payments to employees to cover the costs of working from home are only allowable on a tax-free basis where an employee has a formal homeworking arrangement in place, and not where they work from home occasionally or informally.

To ensure MPs and staff are compliant with tax rules, we will be ending the payment of the allowance except for those staff who are contractually required to work from home.

We know that tax positions vary across individuals, so we strongly recommend consulting further guidance and information from HMRC about working from home payments.

Who will still be eligible to receive the allowance?

Staff members who are on a home-based contract will continue to receive the allowance by default, providing IPSA has been notified and has received a copy of the contract or variation letter.

Any new home-based contracts/variation letters received by the normal payroll cut-off date (the 15th of each month) will be taken into account when setting up payment of the allowance with that month’s payroll.

If contracts/variation letters are received after the payroll cut-off date, the allowance will begin from the following month and, if relevant, backdated to the effective date of the change.

Staff members who are eligible for the allowance can be opted out. The MP or payroll proxy must notify IPSA by emailing payroll@theipsa.org.uk by the cut-off so the necessary changes can be made to the payroll.

What budget will the allowance be allocated to?

From August 2022 onwards, any costs for the homeworking allowance will be allocated to the staffing budget. This is a change from previous arrangements where they were allocated to the office costs budget. However, we have listened to feedback from customers and agree that it is much clearer and more straightforward for the allowance to be paid from the staffing budget, as it is processed through the payroll and made directly to staff members.

How can staff members be moved to a home-based contract?

MPs who are considering employing staff members on a home-based contract and/or allowing reimbursement of homeworking costs are strongly encouraged to seek advice from the House of Commons Members HR team (membershr@parliament.uk) to ensure they are following best practice.

It is important to bear in mind that home-based contracts are likely to be appropriate only for a minority of staff members who carry out all of their normal duties from home and are rarely expected to attend the office.

Occasional or part-time homeworking can be managed within hybrid or office-based contracts supplemented by a flexible working agreement.

Detailed guidance on homeworking and other flexible working arrangements has been produced by Members’ HR.

For staff members to be moved onto a home-based contract, the MP should complete a contract variation letter to amend the existing employment contract. Please send a copy of the variation letter to payroll@theipsa.org.uk.

For new starters, the MP should select the "home-based" option when using the contract generator tool. The new contract should then be submitted to IPSA with new starter paperwork as normal.

What if staff move from a home-based contract to an office-based contract in future?

From August 2022, the home working allowance is only payable to home-based staff.

If staff members who were previously home-based move to office-based working, IPSA must be notified and sent the variation letter so that the allowance can be stopped.

This is important for ensuring compliance with tax rules and avoiding any unexpected tax liabilities.

Can home-based staff claim for reimbursement of costs?

Home-based staff who are in receipt of the allowance cannot claim for reimbursement of homeworking costs at the same time.

For these staff, the homeworking allowance is the default option because it is the most straightforward way to cover costs. However, where staff on home-based contracts have been opted-out of receiving the homeworking allowance, they may claim for reimbursement of specific homeworking costs.

This is more burdensome and is likely to be a desirable option only where the staff member is incurring significantly higher costs than the monthly allowance amount. Homeworking costs may include:

  • energy and utility bills

  • contents insurance

  • rental and usage costs for telephone and internet access

In line with the rules of the Scheme, only costs that are incurred directly as a result of working from home and are in addition to the normal costs of living in the home can be claimed. For example, in most cases, staff members will not incur any additional internet usage costs as a result of working from home, because they would have a home internet connection anyway. Similarly, only a portion of energy costs can be claimed because the majority of those costs would be incurred anyway as normal running costs for the home.

Homeworking costs would be allocated against the MP’s office costs budget.

A home office must be registered before homeworking costs can be claimed.

When making claims, staff members must provide evidence (invoices) and explain the proportion of costs being claimed (for example, additional heating and lighting) in relation to the space within their home where they work and the number of hours per week/month.

What other options are available?

Home-based staff members who are neither in receipt of the allowance nor claiming reimbursement for homeworking costs may be able to claim for tax relief on certain homeworking costs directly from HMRC.

This is not an option for staff who work from home by choice.

According to guidance on Gov.uk, one of the following must apply for someone to claim for tax relief:

  • there are no appropriate facilities available for you to perform your job on your employer's premises

  • the nature of the job requires you to live so far from the employer's premises that it is unreasonable for you to travel to those premises on a daily basis

  • you are required, under government restrictions, to work from home

Consult further guidance to check if you are eligible.

Are staff members on hybrid contracts eligible to receive the allowance?

Staff on hybrid contracts will not be eligible for the homeworking allowance after July 2022.

In order to ensure that MPs and staff are compliant with tax rules, only staff who are contractually required to work from home (i.e. those on a home-based contract) will still be eligible.

Because hybrid working normally involves an element of flexibility and choice, we also think it is unlikely that staff on hybrid contracts will be able to claim for tax relief from HMRC.

If you think you may be eligible for tax relief, you should consult HMRC guidance and use the checker tool to find out.

MPs may claim for hospitality costs from their office costs budget.

This can include things like tea and coffee to offer visitors to the constituency office or refreshments at a meeting or event.

It is not intended to cover routine meal costs for the MP, staff members or others.

Subsistence costs can be claimed by MPs and staff members where they are travelling and staying overnight in line with the Scheme rules on using the travel budget.

Read more about Travel & subsistence.

As always, MPs are expected to consider value for money in their spending. IPSA funding cannot be claimed to cover tips or for the purchase of alcoholic beverages.

This webinar outlines the circumstances of when an MP would need a lease and managing the lease process.

Watch the Managing leases webinar.

It also covers Completing a Property Registration Form and Completing a Property Amendment Form, and what to do if the forms are rejected, all using IPSA Online.

This webinar covers Completing a Property Registration Form and Completing a Property Amendment Form, and what to do if the forms are rejected, all using IPSA Online.

Watch the Property registration and amendment webinar.

Contact IPSA

To get additional support, contact us.