Edinburgh MSP gets £10k expenses for hotel stays in Capital

EDINBURGH Eastern SNP MSP Ash Denham has emerged as the Lothian politician at Holyrood with the biggest expenses claim.

By Ian Swanson
Friday, 4th October 2019, 7:27 pm
Updated Friday, 4th October 2019, 8:27 pm
Edinburgh Eastern SNP MSP Ash Denham claimed for overnight stays in the Capital, as she is entitled to do under Scottish Parliament expenses rules.
Edinburgh Eastern SNP MSP Ash Denham claimed for overnight stays in the Capital, as she is entitled to do under Scottish Parliament expenses rules.

New official figures published by the Scottish Parliament show she was paid a total of £32,742 in allowances in 2018/19 - over £8000 more than the next biggest claimer.Ms Denham’s expenses included more than £10,000 for hotel stays in Edinburgh, including meals, which she is entitled to under the parliament’s allowances scheme because she lives in the Borders.Edinburgh and Lothian MSPs claimed a total of £273,559 between them in 2018/19 - 12 per cent more than the previous year’s total of £240,021.The second biggest claimer was SNP MSP Christine Grahame, whose Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency stretches well down into the Borders.Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton and Almond Valley SNP MSP Angela Constance also had total claims of more than £20,000.The lowest claimers were Lothian’s two Green MSPs, Alison Johnstone and Andy Wightman, who both claimed less than £3000.Ms Denham’s 2018/19 claim was around £20,000 more than she claimed in either of the previous years since she was elected in 2016.And her claims under the Edinburgh accommodation allowance, amounting to £10,042.20, compare with £1234 she claimed against that heading in 2017/18 and no claims at all in that category in 2016/17.Entitlement to reimbursement for Edinburgh accommodation costs depends on the location of a member’s main residence.Those living in constituencies in or closest to the Capital cannot claim for overnight accommodation in the city.But those living in another band of constituencies - including Fife, Dundee, Falkirk, Glasgow and the Borders - can claim hotel expenses for bed, breakfast and an evening meal for each night they have to stay in Edinburgh.A third category of constituency - including the North East, Argyll and Bute and Ayrshire - gives MSPs who live there the right to claim either hotel expenses or the cost of renting a property.Ms Denham, who has been Community Safety Minister since June 2018, said: “Members are entitled to claim money back when carrying out their parliamentary duties and my claims are all in line with the Scottish Parliament allowance system. These expenses allow me to carry out my duties representing and supporting my constituents in Edinburgh Eastern.”

MSPs expenses - the full list for what your MSP claimed

Ash Denham SNP Edinburgh Eastern £32,742.73

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MSPs collectively claimed a total of 273,559 in 2018/19

Christine Grahame SNP Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale £24,506.34

Alex Cole- Hamilton Lib Dem Edinburgh Western £24,225.12

Angela Constance SNP Almond Valley £23,195.73

Daniel Johnson Lab Edinburgh Southern £18,477.10

Gordon MacDonald SNP Edinburgh Pentlands £17,140.73

Iain Gray Lab East Lothian £16,855.95

Ben Macpherson SNP Edinburgh Northern & Leith £16,666.06

Neil Findlay Lab Lothian list £14,931.12

Ruth Davidson Con Edinburgh Central £13,487.82

Colin Beattie SNP Midkothian North & Musselburgh £13,012.64

Jeremy Balfour Con Lothian list £12,224.87

Fiona Hyslop SNP Linlithgow £12,007.43

Kezia Dugdale Lab Lothian list £10,150.43

Miles Briggs Con Lothian list £9,363.29

Gordon Lindhurst Con Lothian list £9,010.19

Alison Johnstone Green Lothian list £2,886.98

Andy Wightman Green Lothian list £2,674.65