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Explainer: How much money does your MSP earn?

As MSPs return to Holyrood after the election you might be wondering how much money each of them takes home in their pay packet, how much they can claim as expenses, or what they received as part of an annual allowances package. We got the calculator out and added up the numbers.

Members of the Scottish Parliament are each given an annual salary of £64,470 but the First Minister, cabinet secretaries and presiding officer all make significantly more.

MSPs haven’t had a pay rise since 2019, after taking a 1.4% increase. They rejected a 5.1% pay increase last year, with salaries linked directly to public-sector pay since 2015.

Despite a pay freeze though, they still earn considerably more than the average salary for nurses and teachers.

Cabinet ministers get a extra salary, in addition to their MSP one.

The First Minister gets a salary of £93,371, plus her her MSP wages, taking the overall amount up to £157,861 – roughly on par with the prime minister of France; about 20 grand less than the prime ministers of Ireland, Denmark or Iceland; but more than double the annual salaries of the Portuguese or Estonian prime ministers.

Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement on Tuesday

Cabinet secretaries such as John Swinney and Kate Forbes also earn an additional salary of £48,449, taking their annual wages up to £112,919.

The Presiding Officer, who will be decided in Holyrood on Thursday, will earn the same as cabinet secretaries.

MSP’s with ministerial roles earn £30,351 as well as their MSP salary, totalling £94,821.

What expenses do MSPs get?

There’s a range of different expense rates available to MSPs, all of which can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.

The most costly expense is staffing costs with up to £91,200 available to all 129 MSPs, although only nine claimed the entire allowance between 2019 and 2020. In total, more than £10m was paid out to MSPs in staff cost provisions alone between April 2019 and March 2020, with millions more paid out in accommodation, travel telecommunications and surgery advertising.

Newly elected MSP Emma Roddick

There’s also a one-off start up provision of up to £5,000 made available to all new MSP’s in their first year of office.

Emma Roddick, MSP for the Highalnds and Islands region, said she would struggle to “live, travel, dress and spend money like an MSP” a month before even receiving her first salary.

Conservative rival Annie Wells hit back at Ms Roddick on Twitter, saying her “sheer entitlement is on full display”.


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