Expenses Search User Guide

What can MSPs Claim?

The Members Expenses Scheme sets a maximum limit on certain costs that Members can claim in any financial year. There is no automatic payment of provisions to Members. It is a claims-based system where costs are met on the basis of actual expenditure incurred by the Member.

Understanding the Allowances Data

It is important to be aware of the following when analysing the information available using the Allowances Search tool:

Data Redactions

Certain specific data has been removed (redacted) on privacy grounds. This includes information such as addresses of MSPs, addresses travelled to (which may include for example those of constituents), names of hotels used, and details of third parties.

Pooling of costs

Data protection issues arise for MSPs where their staff are paid directly from their allowances. These salaries cannot be disclosed for data protection reasons and therefore are not included.

MSPs can:

  1. Employ their own staff;
  2. Employ their own staff and ‘pool’ costs to employ other staff on a shared basis.
  3. Pool costs and employ all staff on a shared basis.

Most parties pool some costs to employ shared staff. Please note that during Session 2 of the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Socialist Party employed its entire staff on a pooled basis while the Scottish Green Party met most of its staff costs from pooled resources. This means that the pooled cost figures shown against MSPs of those parties are primarily and substantially employment costs. This does not mean that those MSPs were necessarily higher spenders than other MSPs. It simply means that, as the employment costs are not specifically identifiable as staff salaries, they have not been removed as is the case with MSPs who employ their staff directly. Accordingly ‘ranking’ of Members Support Allowance expenditure cannot sensibly be done.

The data published in relation to the 2008/9 and the subsequent financial years will include costs incurred by Group Pools subject to the data protection issues listed above.

Please note that the expenses incurred by a Group Pool are already accounted for in the funds transferred to the Pool by each contributing MSP. The Group Pool expenditure should not be included in any search for a total annual expenditure figure.

Definition of the ‘Claim Month’

Because of the way claims are processed, they are searchable only by ‘Claim Month’ rather than by the date on which the expenditure was incurred. The first date appearing in any claim will determine the month under which the whole claim is allocated. For example if a claim covering January, February and March is submitted, then the claim month will be shown as January.

Verifiable expenditure

Allowances are reimbursed only if supported by the relevant invoices or receipts. The only exception is mileage which is detailed in a claim form and reimbursed at a set rate. The Allowances Search tool enables users to see scanned receipts for the financial year 2005-06 and claim forms that MSPs have submitted to support their claims.

Tax Liability

Certain elements of Members’ allowances are taxable