MSPs expenses claims soar as security costs increase

MSPs at Holyrood claimed almost £17 million in expenses last year after an inflation busting rise of £630,000, official figures have revealed.

MSPs expenses have reached almost 17m

And the spending on security-related issues has soared by more than 40% to reach almost £90,000 over the past year it has emerged.

The cost employing staff accounts for the lions share of the cash and has gone up by £434,000 over the past year to reach £12.7 million.

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Spending on childcare vouchers was £37,031 last year, a marginal rise on 2017/18.

The overall cost of expenses for all MSPs reached £116.23 million last year,marking a rise of 4% on 2017/18, almost two-and-a-half times the rate of inflation.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “Details of all MSPs expenses are published on the Parliament’s searchable database and in an open data format.”

Today’s expenses reveal that “central” costs, allocated to MSPs expenses, of local office “security improvements and other security arrangements”, as well as central training, rose to £63,808. MSPs own “security related” claims, along with disability provision, for 2018/19 was £22,954. The total spending on both budgets was £86,762, marking a 42% rise on the previous year.

The money covers the total cost for carrying out parliamentary duties, employing staff and the running of a local office.

The figures show MSPs spent nearly three times as much on car travel as they did on public transport, at £219,819.85 for car hire and vehicle mileage compared with £78,266.91 for public transport, including trams, ferries and rail. The tax bill reached £17,521 for MSPs and their staff, a £1500 rise on the previous year.

Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland raised concerns over the car use, insisting MSPs must take their contribution to the “climate emergency” seriously.

“Those numbers, I think, reflect quite badly on the MSPs as a general group, not focussing on any individual, and they certainly need to change in the years going forward,” he said.

“We need to see a big shift away from people driving private cars and being paid to do that.”

Holyrood chiefs should also review the milage rate for car journeys, he added, to make it less attractive.

Of the five party leaders, Green co-convener Patrick Harvie claimed the most in expenses last year at £29,023.99

He was followed by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard who claimed £27,024.74 and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie whose expenses claim totalled £26,718.09. Ruth Davidson, who stood down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives in August, claimed £13,487.82 between April 2018 and March 2019, having taken maternity leave in October 2018. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon claimed £12,900.81.