FIGURES released from Westminster show that Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley cost taxpayers more than £200,000 during the last year.
Mrs Bradley, pictured, has claimed £16,117.85 for her constituency office; £24,750 for accommodation; £384.29 for general administration; £11,179. 86 for travel and subsistence; £770 for constituency rental; and a socalled ‘connected party payment’, as she employs her husband on a salary of around £42,500.
On top of this Mrs Bradley’s salary as an MP is £65,738 and her staffing bill was £99,172.
Mrs Bradley has defended the payments by saying that being an MP was like running a small firm, and that her husband is employed on an interim basis.
She is one of 155 out of 654 MPs who employ members of their family.
She said: “Being an MP is like a small business. It’s a way of life.
“It’s a job that the whole family gets involved in. The people you call on are your family.
“You don't have a day off, and your family are as involved as you are. You need someone you can rely on completely.”
She added: "I have a good, competent staff across the constituency and they should be properly remunerated. They work hard for the people of the Staffordshire Moorlands.
“I don’t claim for travel within the constituency, only when I go outside and to and from London.
“The total indicates how often I travel to and from London.
“My husband is in a pay band of between £40,000 and £44,999. He gets paid the same as everybody else in that band.
“He’s still doing it on an interim basis, after I lost a valuable member of staff.
“I hope at some point that will change. It’s only ever been on an interim basis.
“When I'm ready to recruit I will be doing that.” However the figures have been questioned by some of Mrs Bradley’s constituents.
Retired couple Roger and Jan Adams of Leek said: “We are disappointed.
“We wrote to our MP about a political issue and received a thoughtful reply. However, it is morally unfair to by-pass a job that is taxpayer-funded.
“Taxpayers and constituents must wonder what family members do to earn £42,500. The salary is around three times what you could get in this area.
“People have had to cut back and the figures come at a time when foodbanks have opened in the town.”
Retired management studies college lecturer Reg Davies, of Leek, said: “Regardless of what the job is, had it been advertised there would have been a queue of applicants from The Smithfield Centre in Leek to Ladderedge and back, since a good job in Leek pays around £20,000.”
Meanwhile, Mrs Bradley has completed a review of her work for people living in the Staffordshire Moorlands during the last year, which is available on her website.
It states she wrote personally to more than 2,800 people to help them with individual problems and to address concerns over policies that they had raised.
These included helping people to get their gas bills sorted out or clarifying their tax position, to supporting them in discussions with social services, as well as making sure her fellow ministers explain the impacts of policy on local people.
During the year she organised 30 constituency surgeries and went to hundreds of meetings, local events and school visits, and ran a successful 100 in 100 apprenticeship scheme in conjunction with the Post & Times, helping to find 120 jobs for youngsters inside 100 days.
In the House of Commons she has one of the strongest voting records, having taken part in 92 per cent of all votes since the 2010 election.
Stone MP Bill Cash, whose area covers Cheadle and some surrounding villages, also claimed more than £200,000.
Mr Cash claimed £16,732.33 for his constituency office; £17,044.86 for accommodation; £1,369.52 for general administration; £9,394.84 for travel and subsistence; £10,677 on staffing; £27,500 to a connected party as Mr Cash employs his wife Biddy Cash; a £65,738 basic MP’s salary plus £14,582 as a committee chairman; and £101,792.88 on staffing.
Mr Cash said this week: “My expenditure is for reasonable costs incurred in carrying out my parliamentary duties in order to assist me in my work representing my constituents at Westminster."