LOADSAMONEY: SNP MSPs at Holyrood trouser £23.5 million in expenses

Shivering Humza Yousaf bills taxpayers for water bottles and heater 

Three SNP MSPs topped the Scottish Parliament list for most expenses, including Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, Banff, Buchan’s Karen Adam and Inverclyde’s Stuart McMillan

SNP's Humza Yousaf at Holyrood with NHS facing winter crisis
Humza Yousaf defending himself at First Minister’s Question in the Scottish Parliament.

By Bill Heaney

Loadsamoney but shivering with it, First Minister Humza Yousaf has billed taxpayers for hot water bottles and a heater due to his constituency office being cold in winter.

The costs (£17.98 and £28.79 respectively) are just a small part of the huge £23.5 million expenses claims made by Scotland’s MSPs, which have just sky-rocketed to their highest levels.

While everyone else is feeling the pain of the Cost of Living crisis – and old folk are forecast to die from hypothermia – these people are being driven around in chauffeur-driven cars and eating out at our expense.

Or sitting down to a heavily subsidised lunch in the plush Holyrood members’ dining room.

It was three SNP MSPs who topped the list for most claims, with Western Isles representative Alasdair Allan ratcheting up the biggest bill of £58,693, followed by his colleagues Karen Adam, MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, who spent £57,722, and Stuart McMillan, MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, at £54,960.

Some of the more unusual expenses included for toilet roll, mini fridges and books about governing. The costs soared by 5.5 per cent or £1.2 million while they put the poor mouth on it in parliament.

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon charged the taxpayer for universal wet wipes which cost £5.34, while SNP deputy leader Keith Brown bought a £26.99 under-desk foot rest so he or his staff member can get their feet up.

Meanwhile, Mr Yousaf’s claims included £18.59 for a roll of paper towels and £3.95 on a thermometer. Mind you, he did wash his hands of a a number of pressing issues.

Scottish Greens MSP Maggie Chapman splashed out £25.44 on a book called Making Laws That Work by David Goddard, with the blurb saying that it “looks at a range of laws which have failed; the “damp squibs” that achieve little or nothing in practice.” Her colleague Ross Greer spent £226.80 on a chair for working at home.

Constitution Secretary “Air Miles” Angus Robertson charged taxpayers 83p for a washing up brush, as well as £2.11 for a dustpan and brush and £7.81 for toilet rolls and he also charged the taxpayer £89 to repair his mobile phone because the glass was cracked.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison spent £1,440 on a Dundee Football Club advertisement board. Like Ms Robinson herself, her football team, beaten 5-0 by Rangers in a fog of fireworks this week, is useless.

Don’t ask me where she has failed, but how she ever got the job is a mystery to me and many more like me.

Shona Robison
Shona Robison, the Deputy First Minister, who takes an advert at Dens Park, which turns out to be yet another an own goal.

In terms of Tory expenses, justice spokesman Russell Findlay made 126 separate claims for bicycle mileage totalling £107.80, with individual amounts ranging from 20p to £2.40. Tory MSP Alexander Burnett spent £90 on a mini fridge.

Callum McGoldrick of the TaxPayers’ Alliance blasted this huge increase in spend. He told the Daily Mail: “Scottish taxpayers will be perturbed to see the cost of MSPs rising. While hard-pressed Scots are having to tighten their belts, it seems the same isn’t the case in Holyrood. MSPs should treat households with greater respect and get these record costs down.’

The total expenses bill for the 2022-23 financial year was a whopping £23.468 million, a substantial increase on the £22.241 million spend the previous year. Other popular claims included car mileage, overnight stays in Edinburgh hotels, stationery, office furniture and staffing costs.

However, the largest part of the bill was for MSP staff members, including salaries, pension contributions and national insurance payments, with these totalling £19.15 million. And despite the end of Covid restrictions, politicians still claimed £43,711 homeworking allowance for their workers for the year.

They were allowed an allowance of up to £6 per week for each staff member, with this being introduced at the start of the pandemic to cover the costs of the likes of gas and electricity but came to an end in October 2022. Total expenditure on childcare vouchers for 2022-23 was £7,932.

A Scottish parliament spokesman said: “As with every year, staff salaries comprise the largest single expense, with £19.1 million covering staff employment in MSPs parliamentary and local offices – 81.6 per cent of the total cost. The remainder covers the cost of running those offices, travel, and support for party leaders who are not in government.”

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