A MOVE to give MPs an extra £10,000 in expenses to cover working from home costs during the coronavirus crisis has been branded "scandalous"

The bumper fund, on top of the standard office budget of £26,000, is to be used to pay for equipment including laptops and printers, as well as to cover increased electricity, heating and phone charges.

The decision to grant extra funds to MPs and their staff has been strongly criticised at a time when household purse strings are being squeezed and businesses are collapsing.

Barrow councillor Bill McEwan said it was "scandalous" MPs were being given more money.

But Barrow and Furness MP Simon Fell defended the increase, pointing out that it was far from a "£10,000 pay rise" for MPs.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority told MPs: “There will be an immediate increase of £10,000 to your office costs budget.

“This is to cover any additional costs you may incur to set up working remotely as a result of coronavirus.

“This extra budget will be available until March 2021.”

Cllr McEwan said: “I think it’s absolutely scandalous to do this at this time.

“Lots of people are working from home and they’re not being given extra money.

“People are losing their jobs. Footballers are being asked to take pay cuts.

“I just don’t think it’s right at this time and they ought to look at themselves.”

Mail readers on Facebook questioned the increase to office budgets.

Beccy Kelly said: “Don’t understand why. What extra expenses are they going to have working from home?

“It’s disgraceful.”

Ronnie Johnston said: “Where exactly is the extra expense incurred by working at home?”

Andrew Sibbit said: “What are nurses, care workers and other key workers getting?”

Mr Fell said his staff were already set up for home working during the pandemic so may not make use of much of the funding.

He said: “This money is an allowance that is going to allow us to better communicate with the public.

“We are dealing with a massive workload in this period. We’ve seen over double the amount of casework since this crisis began and have responded to the majority of it on the same day it comes in. The money will never reach an MP’s bank account.

“It’s certainly not a £10,000 pay rise for MPs. If it was I would be up in arms.”

South Lakes MP Tim Farron said: “We are using this extra money that has been made available to make sure our staff can work safely and effectively from home which they are doing just as hard as ever during this time of crisis.”

As of this month, MPs are receiving a pay rise of 3.1 per cent, with their basic salary rising from £79,468 to £81,932 alongside an extra £25,000 for staff.