MP praised for supporting The Lichfield Blog

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

A leading digital media expert has praised MP Michael Fabricant for his support of The Lichfield Blog.

Rick Waghorn applauded Mr Fabricant’s decision to advertise in the wake of Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s comments at the Why Journalism Matters event on the future of reporting at a local level.

In his speech, Mr Rusbridger said:

“I don’t think our legislators have begun to wake up to this imminent problem as we face the collapse of the infrastructure of local news in the press and broadcasting.”

But Mr Waghorn was keen to praise the Lichfield MP for taking real steps to support a new-look local media landscape.

On his personal blog, Mr Waghorn said:

“I can now point to at least one elected Member of Parliament who has actually made a physical difference to the local news landscape in this country. Which is why Michael Fabricant MP, the Right Honourable Tory MP for Lichfield, deserves to take a bow. Because he’s put his money where his Digital Britain mouth is and has actually digitally engaged with his constituents by taking out an ad for his surgery on The Lichfield Blog and, in so doing, has helped cover their monthly hosting costs.

“Michael Fabricant MP has delivered exactly the kind of practical and, above all, immediate help that is required at this particular moment in media time. Not only that, but he has done it to his own benefit; that if he now recognises that 11,500 of his constituents are now digitally engaging with The Lichfield Blog then hadn’t he better follow the crowd?

“To put his name, his ‘brand’ and his surgery details somewhere where a growing bulk of his constituents were now starting to live their lives – or at least for a few minutes every day as the Last Post started to sound for the Lichfield Post. For me, that’s smart, joined-up thinking from someone in Westminster. Smart, joined-up thinking that is making a difference; one, small step in the right direction.”

Mr Fabricant explained why he had decided to advertise:

“It’s important that my constituents know how to contact me for advice and help and I have advertised my contact details in the print media for many years.  But with a high percentage of my constituents having access to the internet and with The Lichfield Blog providing a valuable source of news, I thought it only too appropriate to advertise on digital media too.  And with the Lichfield Post closing down, alternative news sources such as The Lichfield Blog become ever more important.”

You can find out about advertising on The Lichfield Blog and how we spend any revenue on the advertising page of this website.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

15 Comments

  1. nonoftheabove

    6th August, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Hello Mr Fabricant, can you contribute to the media by explaining your expenses, in particular on expenses you have claimed for completion of your tax returns.. I must say you where correct about the new speaker growing into the job, he must be a very fast learner he has just cost the public £20,000 to refurbish his home, What a bunch of hypocrits.

  2. Unconcerned Citizen

    7th August, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    To be fair to Mr Fab – if you write a letter he’ll most likely respond.
    Regarding his tax returns – its not like he spent the cash on an diamond encrusted floating duck house is it?
    I think you’re clutching at straws nonoftheabove. Compared to most other MPs expenses, Mickey Fab is a shining example of goody goody two shoes.

  3. nonoftheabove

    7th August, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Are you serious, this man has manipulated the expenses system, according to you if I steel a bar of chocolate I am less guilty that the man that stole a box of chocolates. I do not think so. It is the un concerned citizens that will see this country in ruins.
    The man has done wrong and he does not have the courage to answer the accusation. He is sitting waiting for it to go away.
    This man is a MP for goodness sake, The Right Honourable Fabricant!, he is not honourable and he is not right.

  4. Unconcerned Citizen

    8th August, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Don’t get me wrong – i’m all for a witch hunt when it comes to politicians but realistically, how long do you think it would take for an MP to do his accounts by himself? Too long me thinks.

    I’d rather MPs give their reciepts in bags for an accountant to deal with and the MP can then spend their time dealing with what they are supposed to.
    Also If the odd honest mistake goes through – so what. They are usually happy to give it back.
    I must point out that accountants usually put thier fees in the ‘expenditure’ collumn of peoples accounts.

    If a ‘low cost’ MP such as Mr Fab erred on side of exsessive caution with his expenses, just 10% of his expenses out of his own pocket is not really fair either is it? you’d be talking twelve grand.

    Its not like he is doing a fiddle to purchase a second home or buying films or from a porn channel is it?

    The original problem with this expenses was the fact that the Home Secretarys personal assistant was a Baffoon which would obviously compromise national security.
    MPs expenses should come under public scrutinty.
    However this shouldn’t result in MPs running the country on a shoe string budget for fear of being nit picked.

  5. nonoftheabove

    8th August, 2009 at 11:28 am

    The point is is that it is illegal to employ an accountant to prepare your private accounts, as it is with the rest of the public, we cannot excuse one person because ‘he may be busy’. There are hundreds of very busy people in the country actually contributing to the wealth of the country who have to abide by the rules.
    MP’s should set an example. If you consider £120000 a shoestring bidget then god help the rest of us.
    If Fabricant is copnfident he has done nothing wrong why has he stopped respondiong to these accusations.
    What about the question of his ‘grace and favour’ home.

  6. Unconcerned Citizen

    8th August, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    His expenses work out to 328 pounds a day.
    Just over 2 grand a week really is quite cheap if you count traveling backwards and forwards between london, a 2nd home and employing any staff. Throw in stationary, communications etc and its easy to see how it adds up to a large amount. I’ve ran a small business – the costs are higher than you’d guess.

    Im not aware its illegal to employ an accountant for preparing accounts, be it personal or business.

    I’m also not aware of the local general public being angered at his expenses, perhaps due to the fact that he isn’t that expensive compared to other MP’s.
    By grace and favour home, if you mean his westminster flat he has already spoken on that matter and this is beneficial to constituents as MR Fab will spend less time on a train.
    If his lichfield address is grace and favour, as long as he pays the due taxes for this, he is doing nothing wrong.

    I suggest writing to him at his parliament address.

  7. nonoftheabove

    8th August, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Unconcerned Citizen, is your name Fabricant, it is not illegal to employ aan accountant to complete your tax returns, what is illegal is charging it against your expenses, if you have run a business you MUST be aware of this. I have had this confirmed by the Inland Revenue.
    I cannot believe you simply condone the fact that he is only misusing his expense account in a SMALL way, it does not matter that he is in the bottom half of the expenses claims. The problem is he has misused his expenses. The grace and Favour house is in Lichfield I believe. If I go to my office and take away stationary and petty cash, in your view it is acceptable. All of the MP’s are answerable to the public.. I have written to Fabricant in the past and have never received a satisfactory answer..

  8. Unconcerned Citizen

    9th August, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Well.. if you’re sure all thats true, get some evidence together and tell the Guardian or something.
    Persoanlly, i do think its ok to take stuff from work. Check this song on youtube….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIXz_vzROrw

    To justify his tax return being charged to his expenses.. if he wasn’t an mp, they wouldn’t be complicated and he could do them himself.
    The truth of the matter is that Mickey F is way down the league tables and most people given half a chance fiddle expenses.

    But yah.. get your facts to gether and tell the papers if you’re sure you’re right.

  9. nonoftheabove

    10th August, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I have never heard so much tripe, you are saying it is OK to steal from an employer?and if you are to busy it is OK to charge your employer for completeing your tax return? it is no wonder that Mr fabricant gets in as MP is he has supporters like you. I do not have to justify the legal side of my argument because it is the undeniable truth, and will come back to bite Mr Fabricant at the next election

  10. Unconcerned Citizen

    10th August, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    My main point has been that you should make your accusation through a channel that Mr fabricant has to or can respond to. Its pointless making accusations here (be them true or false). He is probably unaware of what you have written.

    Of course you do not have to justify the legal side of the argument.
    However, Morally it is acceptable to steal from work – after all, employers make their profits through stealing employees surplus labour value.
    Legally of course, stealing from work is not allowed as it lowers the profits of the rich. Just becuase its legal it doesn’t mean its right.
    After all, do you really think that savings made by the government benefit us lowly voters? or do these savings go to large contracting companies? thus more profits for somebody. We all know that government spending has never been higher than now and services are constantly in decline. Wheres all the money go?
    Mr Fabricants almost a Robin Hood like figure apart from the fact that he hasn’t passed on this saving.

    If you’ve got a good story, plenty of the big papers would be interested but personally i don’t think its as interesting or as criminal as what a lot of other MPs have done.
    I think the best outcome you could expect is Mr Fabricant thanking you for pointing out his honest mistake and paying back the small sum of money.

  11. nonoftheabove

    10th August, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    OK I give up, it is legal to steal from companies, it is Ok to rob your employer, Mr Fabricant is Robin Hood, with one small problem, he does not give the money back. You know I thinkl you are taking the P’. I have contacted Mr F direct without an adequeste response, the newspapers are possibly fed up with this news item.
    OK you win, I will go out tomorrow and walk away from work with as much as I possibly can, I will also take as much as I can off the governmemnt with my social security, I will walk into Lloyds bank and nick a couple of thousand quid, I will feed my family each month and put it down to expenses, I will charge my rent to the Government.
    Are all of the lunitic asylums full..

  12. theaardvark

    10th August, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I’m not taking any particular side of the argument but I want to correct a statement made:

    “It is not illegal to employ aan accountant to complete your tax returns, what is illegal is charging it against your expenses, if you have run a business you MUST be aware of this. I have had this confirmed by the Inland Revenue.”

    You can charge anything you want against your expenses with the agreement of your employer. The Inland Revenue would not tell you this is illegal. The only thing HM Revenue & Customs (IR no longer exists) would advise you on is the tax treatment of this “expense”.

  13. nonoftheabove

    11th August, 2009 at 8:32 am

    You ask about the legal position for MP’s to claim the use of an accountancy firm to complete their tax return through their MP’s expenses and whether the law is different for MPs and members of the public.

    The tax rules governing allowable employment expenses are well established and tightly drawn. It is a basic principle of the UK tax system that only expenses incurred in actually earning income from a particular source are deductible in calculating the tax payable on that income. Relief is available only if the expenses are incurred “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” in the performance of the duties of the job. The relevant legislation is at section 336 Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003.

    This rule applies to employees and office holders across the board including MPs. To qualify for relief a very direct connection between expenses incurred and the actual execution of the duties has to be demonstrated. Accountancy fees for the preparation of an individual’s tax return enable the individual to meet their personal obligations as a taxpayer and tax relief is therefore not available.

    I trust this answers your query.

    Yours sincerely

    Pete Robinson

    HM Revenue & Customs

  14. theaardvark

    11th August, 2009 at 9:26 am

    @ nonoftheabove

    The letter is exactly as I said. You’ll notice the second paragraph begins with the words “The tax rules” and the final paragraph ends with “tax relief is therefore not available”.

    HMRC are not in the business of policing what you can and cannot claim on expenses. You can claim whatever your employer allows. HMRC only police the tax relief that you claim on expenses you incur.

  15. nonoftheabove

    11th August, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    has Mr fabricant paid tax on this benifit,in kind NO – have the employers approved this benifit in kind NO.