Scottish Daily Mail
Parliament costs hit a record high
Scots now footing a bill of nearly £100m a year
THE cost of Scotland’s parliament has rocketed to a record high, with the taxpayer billed almost £100million a year.
The price of maintaining Holyrood and paying all MSPs and staff has soared by 6.7 per cent in the past year, a report has revealed.
Total spend in 2016-17 was £95.6million, compared with £89.6million the previous year.
The parliament building was three years late and more than 40 times over budget when it finally opened in 2004.
Gordon Lindhurst, Scottish Tory MSP for the Lothians, said: ‘It’s concerning to see the costs of running the parliament still increasing, and the general public will understandably want answers as to why this is happening. This is taxpayers’ money... we have a duty to ensure that these costs are kept under control.’
According to the Scottish parliament’s annual accounts, in 2016-17 the biggest individual cost was staff salaries, which fell to £25.60million from £25.65million in 2015-16.
But parliamentary expenses rocketed by 24 per cent, from £12.7million to £15.8million, while MSP and other officeholders’ salaries rose from £11.4million to £14million.
This was largely because of £2.1million of ‘resettlement’ costs paid to those who lost seats in the 2016 election.
Annual running costs of the parliament building, including maintenance, soared from £7.8million to £8.3million. Some £2.2million went on capital projects, up from £1.2million the previous year – including £1.75million on upgrading lights in the main chamber, working out at £357 per bulb.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It was bad enough that the construction of the parliament building itself went horrendously over budget, now we find the running costs are also running out of control.
‘Far from attempting to further meddle in the lives of Scottish taxpayers and their incomes, MSPs should ensure parliament gets a grip on its running costs.’
The annual accounts show that the total remuneration package of Scottish parliament chief executive Paul Grice cost between £195,000 and £200,000 last year, up from £165,000 to £170,000 the previous year.
Seven members of the senior management team earned sixfigure packages when pension benefits are included.
In the accounts document, Mr Grice states that the remainder of this session will bring ‘unprecedented challenges’, adding: ‘The main challenge for the corporate body will be in supporting members in carrying out their full range of parliamentary duties and meeting anticipated demands from further constitutional change and parliamentary reform.’
The Scottish parliament said increased costs were due to an increase in the amount MSPs can spend on staff – from £62,300 to £85,000 – and postelection ‘resettlement costs’.
‘MSPs should get a grip’