Suffolk: MP defends £120k refreshments bill

Dan Poulter

Dan Poulter - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich MP has been forced to defend the Department of Health’s refreshments bill after it emerged tens of thousands of pounds has been forked out this year.

Health ministers have faced criticism for spending £119,808 on refreshments since January, according to a response to a parliamentary question.

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott, who obtained the figures, claimed ministers were “living on another planet” as the total spend on refreshments reached £1.5million since the election in May 2010.

She added that families would find the spending “infuriating” following NHS cuts.

Ms Abbott claimed: “Ministers are living on another planet to the rest of us.”

In his reply to Ms Abbott, health minister and Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Daniel Poulter said the average monthly spending on refreshments had dropped.

He said it had fallen from £78,100 in 2009/10 to £15,700 in the first two months of this financial year.

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Mr Poulter added: “The department’s policy is not to provide refreshments for internal meetings.

“These costs include the provision of refreshments for external meetings and visitors hosted in the department’s buildings.

“The department has spent £119,808 (including VAT) on these types of refreshments since January 2013.”