London apartments that were leased out free of cost to politicians like John Prescott are laying empty and could be turned into civil servant offices, according to The Telegraph.
The three ‘grace-and-favour flats’, in Admiralty House, cost £173,000 a year in up-keep. The government is reluctant to allow MPs to use the spaces for free because of the high profile MPs’s expenses scandal last year, where ministers wrongfully used public money to maintain their flashy lifestyles.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: “We are looking at the whole of the central London government estate to see how it can be best used. None of the grace-and-favour flats are currently occupied”.
Prime Minister David Cameron has the authority to assign the spaces for use. Maude said the PM has “plenty to think about without being a letting agent for ministerial flats” and that it is “unlikely” the flats will be taken up by ministers.
The building, close to Trafalgar Square office space, was used as a “love nest” by former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and his secretary Tracey Temple. The remaining two flats were occupied by Geoff Hoon and Margaret Beckett who declared them as their main homes but did not contribute to the rent. The two Labour cabinet members then used public money to pay for their constituency homes.
The property is a Grade I listed building and was constructed in the late 18th century.