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What support are MPs given to do their jobs?

For MPs elected to parliament for the first time the task ahead can seem daunting.

Portcullis House
MPs' offices are based at Portcullis House, opposite the Palace of Westminster.

MPs carry out various parliamentary, political and policy roles. This involves everything from debates and committee duties to public engagement and constituency work. To help with this often daunting workload MPs are provided with certain resources and support services – many of which will be used for the first time by new MPs from 5 July.

Do MPs have their own staff?

All MPs who have sworn in to parliament, no matter their role, are entitled to claim money from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA, a public body created in 2009) to employ their own personal office staff. MPs’ staff assist with parliamentary tasks such as legislation and policy research, as well as constituency, financial and administrative work. 

These staff have an unusual employment status in that they are employed directly by the MP but payrolled by IPSA, which also provides model contracts to MPs, along with guidance. As such they are not public servants in the way that civil servants are, but nor are they employed centrally by parliament like their colleagues working in the parliamentary services. These staff cannot conduct party political or campaign activity while contracted and paid by IPSA.

How many staff work for MPs?

In 2023 there were just over 3,500 staff working for MPs on IPSA contracts as personal office staff 15 Numbers of staff are not reported at regular intervals in July 2023 it was reported that there were 3,672 MPs’ staff registered with IPSA  – almost double the number in 1999. In 2020, an IPSA policy review on the funding of MPs’ staff provided headline figures showing that most MPs employed between three and five full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff (around 75%), and that all 650 MPs employed at least one. 

Turnover of MPs’ staff is high, at around 100 staff per month. Unsurprisingly, this is higher during an election year when MPs stand down or lose their seats. 16 Rebecca McKee, ‘MPs' Staff, the Unsung Heroes: An Examination of Who They Are and What They Do’, Constitution Unit, UCL, 2023,

How are MPs’ staff funded?

The vast majority of MPs’ staff are funded through the IPSA staffing allowance, although they can be funded through other means and some are employed using Short Money

The staffing allowance each MP can use to claim for staffing salaries and other related costs is set by IPSA each year, and is occasionally reassessed to take in MPs’ need for support. The current allowance is designed to cover up to five FTE staff, and since 2012 has been weighted for London-based constituency MPs to cover higher living costs in the capital.

The 2024-25 allowance is set at £268,550 for London area MPs and £250,820 for non-London area MPs. 18 A list of London area constituencies can be found in Schedule 1 of the scheme, the allowance is laid out in Annex A,

MPs can use some of their IPSA staffing allowance or office costs to subscribe to ‘pooled services’, whereby MPs, usually from within the same political party, combine a proportion of their staffing allowances to jointly fund specialist research support staff. Examples of this include Labour’s Parliamentary Research Service and the Conservatives’ Policy Research Unit.

What do MPs' staff do?

There are three main kinds of work that these staff do: research, executive (mainly casework and some communications), and administrative. MPs can choose the mix of staff they employ and where they are based. Generally, the staff based in MPs’ constituency offices focus on casework while those in Westminster conduct research, for example producing briefings, drafting questions and liaising with external stakeholders, as well as some office administration and communications. 20 Rebecca McKee, ‘MPs' Staff, the Unsung Heroes: An Examination of Who They Are and What They Do’, Constitution Unit, UCL, 2023  Even if staff are employed with a particular job title it is up to the MP to manage their day-to-day activities and many perform a mix of activities. 

What support can MPs get from parliament?

MPs also receive support from the parliamentary services staff, including via:

  • The House of Commons Library, which produces impartial policy analysis that is either  public (debate packs, research briefings) or private (one-off confidential inquiries from MPs), as well as some training. 
  • The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), which provides specific scientific advice on policy matters relating to science and technology.
  • The Parliamentary Digital Service, which serves the IT services for both the House of Commons and House of Lords.
  • The Table Office, which assists MPs on procedure including tabling Parliamentary Questions and Early Day Motions. 
  • The Journal Office, which manages the ‘procedural knowledge’ of the House and will assist with laying papers.
  • The Vote Office, which supplies the parliamentary and government documents (order papers, relevant documents for the day’s debates and ministerial statements) to MPs, Peers and others as well as detailed guidance for example on particular motions. 
  • The Public and Private Bill Office, which administers all business relating to legislation as well as providing advice to MPs on public and private legislation.

MPs who sit on parliamentary committees also receive specialist support from officials assisting those committees. There is also a broader team of policy specialists and administrative staff responsible for organising the committee business – both in Westminster and on external visits – who will also assist with preparing policy briefs and drafting reports. The Scrutiny Unit also available to provide specialist expertise including on financial matters and draft bills.

Do MPs receive an induction?

Since 2010 the House of Commons has provided a welcome and orientation package, including a ‘buddy system’ for new MPs and briefings on topics like standards, etiquette and setting up an office. 

Parliament also introduced a broader induction programme which covers areas like procedure, services available to MPs and other practicalities. However this programme has not been consistent, and from 2015 was scaled back to became more of an ‘on demand’ service for new MPs. Subsequently, due to the snap elections called in 2017 and 2019 there was not enough time for the House authorities to plan a full programme of activities. 

In a recent speech to the Hansard Society, Theresa May described better inductions for MPs as crucial to improving and sustaining democracy. 23  The House of Commons Standards Committee has also recommended improved induction for new MPs on standards. 

This is a view shared by the IfG, 24  which runs a dedicated programme offering training for new MPs on understanding government. 

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