Slight drop in councillors’ expenses
Councillors’ pay packets and expenses dropped by just over one per cent in the last financial year to almost £491,000.
Earnings for the 22 councillors, which are set nationally was about £406,000 with former SIC leader Gary Robinson the biggest recipient with a wage of £28,157. Mr Robinson, who made flights to the mainland and Brussels for council business, had the highest expenses of £16,271.
He was followed by former Shetland North Councillor Drew Ratter who had almost £12,000 of expenses with Malcolm Bell claiming just short of the same figure.
In total almost £85,000 was paid in expenses – down £9,000 on the previous year.
Shetland North Councillor Andrea Manson claimed £8.31 in expenses, with her fellow Shetland North councillor Alistair Cooper the highest claimant for car and van mileage of £3,828.
Basic pay for councillors is £16,893.
Mr Robinson was also the highest claimant for ICT and phone costs.
We are all aware of the high travel costs we face as Shetlanders, and we try to make sure we attend to as much official business as possible when we do travel. MALCOLM BELL
Total expenditure on salaries was up from last year by about £4,000. The SIC said councillors are only allowed to claim expenses on money they spent while on official business, while there is a limit set by the Scottish government.
Councillors are only allowed to claim back money which they have already spent on official business. Receipts have to be presented before money can be reclaimed and members must pay anything over the limit themselves.
Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell: “I’m pleased to see a reduction in this year’s figures. We are well aware of the balance we need to strike between adequately representing our ward – and the rest of Shetland – and keeping the costs to a minimum. We do try as much as possible to conduct business remotely by audio or video-conference, but it is essential to attend some meetings in person.
“We are all aware of the high travel costs we face as Shetlanders, and we try to make sure we attend to as much official business as possible when we do travel.
“It is important to remember that councillors do not benefit personally from the expenses they claim – this is money which they have already paid themselves in carrying out their duties, and which they can reclaim.”