MPs have been told for the first time that they can expense the cost of food and drink for staff Christmas parties to taxpayers.

Advice issued from the expenses watchdog, Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, in response to “frequently asked questions” about how MPs and their staff can celebrate during the festive season.

However, the “hospitality” claims for Christmas parties cannot include alcoholic beverages, guidance from the Ipsa states.

Ipsa confirmed that “MPs can claim the costs of food and refreshments for an office festive” in their parliamentary or constituency offices but warned, “no claims are allowed for alcohol”.

As reported by the Daily Mail, the cost of “festive decorations for their office” can also be claimed.

Cumnock Chronicle: MPs told they can claim expenses on Christmas parties for the first timeMPs told they can claim expenses on Christmas parties for the first time (Image: Canva)

 MPs were told that any claims “should represent value for money, especially in the current economic climate”, as millions feel the strain of a cost-of-living crisis.

The news has caused criticism for the policy, with John O’Connell of the TaxPayers’ Alliance telling the Daily Mail: “While businesses and households in their constituencies pay for parties out of their own pockets, politicians get to dip into the public purse.

“MPs who want Christmas bashes should foot the bill themselves.”

Ipsa said: “There is discretion within budgets for some items, but we would remind MPs that claims should represent value for money, especially in the current economic climate, must be expressly parliamentary in nature and should not be party-political, campaigning, or self-promotional.”