MPs can put the cost of food and drink at their staff Christmas parties on expenses for the first time.

It means taxpayers will pay for the festivities – but alcohol cannot be included in the “hospitality” claim, according to guidance from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

The advice from the expenses watchdog came in response to frequently asked questions on how MPs and their staff can celebrate Christmas.

It said “MPs can claim the costs of food and refreshments for an office festive” in their parliamentary or constituency offices.

Lights, tinsel, and a tree can also be expended because “festive decorations” are covered by the guidance.

However, MPs have been told to be mindful of the cost of living crisis and any claims “should represent value for money, especially in the current economic climate”.

The move has been criticized by some, with the TaxPayers’ Alliance saying that MPs “already get a plum deal without taxpayer-funded office jollies”.

The organisation’s John O’Connell told MailOnline: “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.”

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