From wet wipes to hot water bottles…MSPs’ record £23 million expenses

Expenses claims by Scotland’s MSPs for items including hot water bottles, toilet roll and wet wipes have rocketed to a record high of £23.5million.

The bill soared by 5.5 per cent, or £1.2million, last year at a time when families are having to tighten their belts because of the cost of living crisis.

Among the claims, Humza Yousaf charged taxpayers for hot water bottles costing £17.98 and a £28.79 heater because his constituency office is cold in winter.

His predecessor Nicola Sturgeon also put universal wet wipes costing £5.34 on expenses, while SNP deputy leader Keith Brown bought a £26.99 under-desk foot rest.

The biggest bill of any MSP was £58,693 for the SNP’s Alasdair Allan, who represents the Western Isles, 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.

SNP’s Alasdair Allan, topped the expenses list with £58,693

 SNP’s Alasdair Allan, topped the expenses list with £58,693

Callum McGoldrick of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘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 £23.468million, compared with £22.241million the previous year.

It includes a range of claims covering car mileage, overnight stays in Edinburgh hotels, stationery, office furniture and staffing costs. 

Mr Yousaf’s claims included £18.59 for a roll of paper towels and £3.95 on a thermometer.

Tory MSP Russell Findlay made 126 separate claims for bicycle mileage totalling £107.80, with individual amounts ranging from 20p to £2.40.

Green MSP Maggie Chapman spent £25.44 on a book by David Goddard called Making Laws That Work, which ‘looks at a range of laws which have failed; the “damp squibs” that achieve little or nothing in practice’.

Tory MSP Alexander Burnett spent £90 on a mini fridge, while Deputy First Minister Shona Robison spent £1,440 on a Dundee Football Club advertisement board.

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson put an 83p washing up brush on expenses, as well as £2.11 for a dustpan and brush and £7.81 for toilet rolls. 

He also charged the taxpayer £89 to repair his mobile phone because the glass was cracked. Green MSP Ross Greer spent £226.80 on a chair for homeworking.

The largest part of the expenses bill was salaries, pension contributions and national insurance payments for MSP staff, which totalled £19.15million.

Despite the end of Covid restrictions, MSPs still claimed £43,711 homeworking allowance for their staff for 2022-23. 

The allowance of up to £6 per week for each staff member was introduced at the start of the pandemic to cover the costs of extra charges such as gas and electricity but eventually 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 £19.1million 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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