MP’s Expense Data – Summary Statistics & Consistent Claimants (See the code)
This analysis is once again heavy on visualisation; I’m really enjoying using Plotly at the minute! As ever, I’ve included the code in a tutorial format for those of you who are interested in that kind of thing.
The plan for this analysis was to fill in some more background information about the data as a whole; I got a little carried away with pointing an accusatory finger at those claiming expenses for duck ponds. . . But don’t worry, there’s still some finger pointing here, but this time with names!
First of all I generated a quick rundown of the summary statistics; looking at the average number of claims each year, the total amount claimed, the average amount claimed etc. You can see all of this in the chart below, but they’re pretty boring so I suggest skipping this chart:
The total amount claimed was highest in 2013 and 2014; this seemed to be driven by an increase in the average claim amount, rather than a dramatic increase in the number of claims.
This chart shows the difference between the top and bottom ten single expense claims each year:
What’s striking about this is that in 2013 and 2014, some of the lowest amounts claimed as a single expense were as large as some of the highest claims in previous years!
Now, here’s the good stuff! The chart below shows those MPs who were consistently in the top ten expense claimants by amount each year, and shows for how many years they were in the top ten:
As expected, there’s a cluster of MPs who each spent a year in the top ten, but within these, there are two further clusters at ~£50k and ~£200k. There’s also a few MPs (and you can find out who by hovering over the points!) who managed to rack up the best part of half a million quid in expenses over 2-3 years!
Let’s finish on some good news. This chart shows those MP’s who consistently claimed low amounts of expenses:
To put this in perspective . . . that one MP at the end, above the number 4, claimed less than £20k in expenses cumulatively over the 4 years he spent in the lowest ten claimants, although that’s not to say that he didn’t claim hundred of thousands of pounds in other years . . .
The difference in the amount of money claimed by MPs is huge. There are some who seem to be very frugal, and others who spend a lot more! There could obviously be very good reason for an MP to spend £200k in a year. A seasonal train ticket from Newcastle to London should do it!
It’s also important to note that we actually want MPs to make expense claims. Can you imagine living in a country in which only the most wealthy can afford to hold office? It’s essential that we reimburse politicians for the costs accrued in doing their job. This said, there is a fine line between what constitutes a reasonable work expense. . . I would say that it’s maybe not reasonable to expect the public to foot the whole bill for an election campaign, as this would incentivise MPs to spend vast sums of money on gaining reelection.
There’s some interesting analysis still to be done on this dataset. I’d like to see what happens when an MPs region of office is taken into account – do Scottish and Irish MPs rack up higher expense bills due to travel? What about an MPs party affiliation? Even better, why not look at how often an MP speaks or votes in Parliament and figure out just how much bang we’re getting for our buck!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this analysis and that you’ve managed to understand the charts. If you have looked at the code tutorial and have any questions, send me an email or ask a question in the comments.