Expenses: fancy a little data entry?

This entry was posted on
Monday, July 12th, 2010
1:25 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

The delightful Ms Humphrey Cushion spotted some fresh expenses data released on July 8, 2010. There’s no master page for it that I can find, sorry, but if you visit this page and click on most MP’s names, it should appear as ‘Personal Additional Accommodation Expenditure 2009-10′

It’s easy to be thrown off by the title of the release (and the date it was released) but these are the accommodation-related claims for April, May and June 2009… i.e. these forms and claims were submitted as the expenses scandal unfolded last summer. I’ve only browsed through a small percentage of the data myself, but I’m already seeing a clear pattern of MPs backing off on expenses claims and/or stopping entirely during this period, and it’s fascinating.

A few of us Twittery bods have taken it upon ourselves to organise this data into a spreadsheet before the Guardian/Telegraph (and/or in greater detail), and if you have any spreadsheet experience (it doesn’t take much) then I invite you to join us. Instructions follow:

1 – Email me for an invite to access the spreadsheet on Google Docs: [bloggerheads DOT com AT gmail DOT com]

2 – Pick a set of MPs no-one else is working on (they are arranged alphabetically and grouped by first letter of surname; it is easy to spot areas where people are working as completed rows are coloured yellow)

3 – Starting here, click on your chosen letter/group. then click on each MP’s name in turn, and see if there’s an entry for ‘Personal Additional Accommodation Expenditure 2009-10′, and…

(a) If there isn’t, or if the only form is one of these, then just put ‘N’ in the column marked ‘Did they file claim(s) for 2009/10 (Y/N)’, then enter your name under ‘Data input by’, then colour the row yellow, and move on to the next MP. (Psst! Don’t forget to fill in the column telling us who entered this data!)

(b) If there is, but it looks like the forms have been filled in with crayon by an idiot, then move on to the next MP and try again, or give up entirely knowing you just don’t have the patience for this

(c) If there is, then take note of the date on the main form(s), labelled ‘PAAE 2′ in the top right hand corner (ignore the stamped date; you want the date range listed in ‘Claim details’ right under the MP’s name) and just enter the relevant numbers in the correct columns (‘Mortgage Interest’, ‘Rent’, ‘Gas’, ‘Electricity’, etc.), do this for each month (i.e. 04/09, 05/09 and/or 06/09 where applicable) then colour the row yellow when you’ve entered all visible/relevant data, and move on to the next MP.

(We’ve been adding columns where new claim types emerge, but if you are in any doubt just stop work on that row and move on (i.e. leaving it coloured white). The same applies if you’re in doubt about things like multiple forms for single months, forms in the wrong order, random scans of bills that have no relevance to the figures quoted in the main form(s), etc. etc. etc.)

I won’t pretend to have time to handle more than a dozen entries myself today, but if enough people chip in, we can get this done in good time and release the itemised/organised data for wider analysis this week.

About Tim Ireland

Tim is the sole author of Bloggerheads.
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