Taxpayers count cost as new MSPs claim for office moves

MOVING home is never a cheap business – and nor is moving into a new office, it seems.

The latest breakdown of MSPs’ expenses published by the Scottish Parliament reveals how the new MSPs elected last May went shopping for vacuum cleaners, kettles, clocks, bins, brooms and toilet brushes, as well as getting decorators and ordering window graphics, blinds and carpets – not to mention finding premises in the first place.

Colin Beattie, SNP MSP for Midlothian North & Musselburgh, said setting up a constituency office as an MSP proved “particularly challenging”.

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Mr Beattie said: “The allowances we get mean you are really constrained. There were places available, but the rateable values were too high and we could not afford the rent.”

He eventually secured an office at a rent of £4200 a year. “But what I got was a shell and I had to refurbish it,” he said.

Holyrood officials balked at the £5626 bill for painting and joinery, arguing the landlord should have carried that out. But Mr Beattie said: “He would have charged a higher rent and he might not have done it to the standard you want.” He won his appeal.

Mr Beattie also claimed £129.38 for goods including a vacuum cleaner, clock, toilet brush, blind duster and bucket, and another £135.42 for a fridge, crockery and cutlery.

He said he had paid out of his own pocket for sofas and tables for the office.

The detailed breakdown of expenses shows Lothians’ three Labour list MSPs – Sarah Boyack, Kezia Dugdale and Neil Findlay – shared the £4714 cost of joinery, electrical work and glazing at their shared office in West Calder. They also claimed for heaters, carpets, blinds and fire extinguishers.

Edinburgh Pentlands SNP MSP Gordon Macdonald, who has recently secured a constituency office in Inglis Green Road, claimed £813.60 for a roller shutter, £483.70 for carpets, £516 for decoration and £144 for kitchen units.

He also claimed £12 for a 16-piece Ikea dinner set for staff, £9.99 for a coat rack, £7.49 for a table and £143.97 for a fridge, toaster and kettle.

Edinburgh Central SNP MSP Marco Biagi has a constituency office in Buccleuch Street. His claims included a fridge and microwave with grill, worth £188.97, and a Thermos pump, vacuum cleaner, mugs, mop and bucket at £62.95.