THE amount in expenses claimed by Holyrood opposition leaders has more than doubled in the space of a year, Scottish Parliament figures have shown.

On Thursday, the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) released the final quarter of expenses for 2022-23, with MSPs overall claiming more than £23 million, an increase of 5.45%.

In the annual release, figures showed that the amount claimed via the Party Leaders’ Allowance Scheme increased by 145.18%.

This year's figures showed £28,220 was claimed via the scheme in 2022-23, compared to £11,510 in 2021-22, a total increase of £16,710.

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The scheme provides further support for “qualifying” opposition leaders to carry out “extra duties” such as necessary office costs, travel and overnight expenses, employment of staff and other costs.

It's understood the 2021-22 costs were lower due to the pandemic's impact. 

Only the Scottish Tories (31 MSPs) and Scottish Labour (22 MSPs) have a high enough number of MSPs to qualify for the scheme.

The latest release shows Ross used the scheme to claim £94.50 back for "Breakfast" in December 2022, and £717.41 on a variety of travel. Sarwar meanwhile claimed £192 for a night at the Hilton Garden Inn at Heathrow Airport in November 2022, after attending a Muslim Council of Britain event, and £311.89 for parliamentary travel "outside Scotland".

And, on individual expenses, Ross, Sarwar and Alex-Cole Hamilton claimed over £90,000, the latest release showed.

The National:

Ross topped the list with £36,881.32 in expenses, including over £2300 in council tax for his Edinburgh accommodation, £1229.40 in mileage and £155.46 for window cleaning services for his regional MSP office, on top of £5350 in rent for the hub.

Of this, £811.91 fell under the Party Leaders Allowance scheme.

LibDem Cole-Hamilton claimed £31,023 for the year, including £742.95 in mileage, £19.99 for a pair of iPhone headphones and the same amount for a power bank for his parliamentary phone, £14,400 in office rent, and £620 for window cleaning.

Scottish Labour’s Sarwar claimed £24,996, £6540 of which was for Edinburgh hotel accommodation over the 2022-23 period.

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He also claimed £1719.45 in mileage, £6835.52 for office rent, and £1050 for legal advice “in relation to license to occupy office for four Glasgow Labour MSPs”. Of the total, £503.89 fell under the Party Leaders Allowance.

Elsewhere, MSP expenses increased by £1,210,541. In 2021-22, parliamentarians claimed back £22,229,192, with the total increasing to £23,439,733 in 2022-23.

With expenses combined with the Party Leaders Allowance, the amount paid out increased in 2022-23 increased by £1,227,251 (5.52%) to £23,467,953.

The National: Holyrood

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: “As with every year, staff salaries comprise the largest single expense, with £19.1m covering staff employment in MSPs parliamentary and local offices – that’s 81.6% of the total cost.

“The remainder covers the cost of running those offices, travel, and support for party leaders who are not in government.”

The SPCB also revealed that £7932 was paid out on childcare vouchers, a decrease from £9988 in 2021-22.