Paying for security costs in your constituency

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Added: 21 July 2005

While security measures at Westminster are understandably impressive, staff working in constituency offices (about a third of the total) are often concerned about what is available for them.  The Operations Directorate issued the information below last month and it’s well worth reading to see what help you can get.

 

Scheme for Central Contributions towards Members’ Security Costs

Purpose of the scheme

To help Members to meet the costs of measures taken in the constituency to safeguard their staff, their equipment and themselves, where recommended by the police.

Scope

  • Minor building works to your surgery in the constituency.
  • Purchase, lease, installation, monitoring and/or maintenance of security equipment for use in the office/surgery in the constituency.

For example, the scheme might contribute to the costs of video entry systems, CCTV, alarm systems, steel shutters and gates or the construction of a sealed entry lock, and/or personal alarms for staff to use in the office. It will not normally cover security measures for the Member’s home (except for any part of it used as an office), or for Members’ vehicle(s).

In rare cases where the police consider that the Member is at particular personal risk, contributions may be made towards their personal protection.

Threshold

You will be expected to meet the first £1000 of any project from your Members’ allowances. This is because all Members receive a notional £1000 towards security costs via their Incidental Expenses Provision.

Rate of contribution

For projects costing £1000 or more (see paragraph above), up to a maximum of £4000, the central security budget will contribute matched funding – giving a maximum contribution of £1500 from the central security budget. More may be available in exceptional cases. We reserve the right to obtain professional advice on proposals.

How to apply

Please obtain a report from your local police crime prevention officer and forward it to the Operations Directorate together with an estimate of costs from a reliable contractor/supplier. The police should be asked to prioritise their recommendations. In most cases we will be able to let you know very quickly whether the proposed works qualify under the scheme.

It is your responsibility to:

  • Conduct any risk assessment required for health and safety
  • Obtain a specialist risk assessment and crime prevention advice from the local police
  • Obtain the landlord’s permission for the work. In general basic security measures (locks etc) are the responsibility of the landlord, who should be encouraged to carry these out
  • Obtain any other permissions eg listed building consent etc
  • Ensure that contractors are reputable and provide value for money
  • Ensure that security measures meet the relevant standards eg BS 3621 for certain locks
  • Notify the Information Commissioner if you use CCTV
  • Where appropriate, ensure that the measures taken meet the requirements of insurers.
  • Ensure that any alterations will so far as possible aid access for those with disabilities (bearing in mind a range of conditions and not just wheelchair users)
  • Provide suitable training for your staff

Tax implications

The security payments are taxable on the same basis as the Incidental Expenses Provision. Under the general rules for Schedule E expenses you can get relief for expenses that are wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in the performance of your duties. These qualifying conditions are very strict but if you think that expenditure which has been covered by your allowance does meet them, enter the appropriate figures in your tax return.

Ownership of capital equipment

If you buy any fixtures and fittings such as security cameras, the House will not make any claim of ownership over them but you should agree with your landlord whether they are fixtures which would will therefore pass to the landlord’s ownership on termination of the lease.

Future implications

If you have made alterations to the premises and you cease to use them in future, the landlord may require you to return the premises to their original condition. If you cease to be a Member for any reason you may charge this against the Winding Up Allowance. But if you decide to move offices while still a Member you will need to find the costs of this out of your normal allowances.

Operations Directorate, June 2005

Other useful contacts:

  • Security in the Parliamentary Estate: Muir Morton, Deputy Serjeant at Arms x3040
  • Health and Safety advice: Steven Wicks x0325.