MPs have slammed a move which will see them be able to put the cost of staff Christmas parties on their expenses for the first time. 

It means taxpayers will pay for the festivities although 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. 

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

SNP MP for Airdrie and Shotts Anum Qaisar has hit out at the news on Twitter. 

She said: “This is completely tone-deaf – especially during a cost-of-living crisis. MP staff are the backbone of our offices and it’s my delight to treat my team at Christmas as a gesture of thanks for all their hard work. 

“IPSA should reverse this decision.”

Elsewhere, the SNP’s Stewart McDonald called it an “absurd” ruling and called on the body to reverse the “universally unwelcome advice".

Glenrothes MP Peter Grant also called on the body to publish details on "who asked" for this to happen. 

He said: "I wonder if @ipsaUK could publish details of who asked for this? I certainly didn't and I won't be claiming. 

"It would be wrong at the best of times and it's ridiculous when many of our constituents won't be able to afford any Christmas celebrations at all."

Christian Wakeford, who defected to Labour from the Tories earlier in the year, said on social media: “No one has asked for this and I don’t know anyone that will use it. 

“Ridiculous decision that I hope is overturned.”

Lights, tinsel and a tree can also be expensed as “festive decorations” according to the guidance. 

Labour MP Jess Phillips said it was a “really irresponsible” move. She tweeted: “I will throw a Christmas party for my staff; it will be in my home where I will cook and pay for all of the food and drink. 

“Once again I reiterate that there was no clamour for this from MPs and it’s stupid.”

In a statement, IPSA said: "We are aware of concerns regarding the rules for MPs' festive and celebratory claims. Our rules have not changed.

"MPs employ, on average, five members of staff in their local constituencies to deal with casework from members of the public. These cases are often distressing for the constituent and staff member alike and working in that environment day in and day out is very challenging.

"As employers, it is entirely appropriate that MPs should, if they see fit, reward their staff with a modest gathering at Christmas. We are clear that alcohol is not included, that any event must represent value for money, is subject to publication for transparency and must not be party political in nature. It must be funded within existing budgets.

"To suggest that there is anything inappropriate in this is simply incorrect. We are disappointed with the interpretation of this normal employment practice at a time when MPs are receiving large amounts of abuse, particularly on social media."