Members claim less in expenses

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THE amount claimed in expenses by Argyll and Bute councillors has fallen for the fourth year in a row, figures have revealed.

A table published on the authority’s website shows that a total of £104,925 in expenses was paid to the area’s 36 councillors in the 2019/20 financial year.

This does not include £8,178 in telephone and ICT expenses accrued by the councillors, which are met directly by the authority.

The figure compares to £116,892 in 2018/19, which itself was a decrease of £129,772 the previous financial year.

On average, councillors were paid £2,914 each in expenses in 2019/20, compared to the 2018/19 average of just under £3,250.

When added to salaries, councillors received £821,833 in the last financial year – an increase of more than £4,000 on 2018/19.

In a statement accompanying the figures, executive director Douglas Hendry said: ‘The tables attached set out the payments made for the period from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.

‘The amounts shown are not the amounts actually received by councillors. Firstly, the remuneration payments shown are gross figures, which are then subject to tax and national insurance deductions.

‘Secondly, other expense payments relate solely to the reimbursement of actual expenditure incurred by the councillor and are all backed up with receipts.

‘Thirdly, the council decided that it would be more effective to provide a broadband connection for each councillor for council business related communication and telephone calls.’

As in previous years, Islay resident Councillor Robin Currie claimed the most of any councillor. After deduction of telephone and ICT expenses, his total was £18,208.

More than half of that was for accommodation, with mileage, travelling expenses and meals accounting for the rest.

He is a member of the planning, protective services and licensing committee, which meets monthly and holds hearings all over Argyll and Bute. His ward also includes eight community councils.

Councillor Alastair Redman claimed the second most with £9,151. He, too, is on the planning committee.