Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Council / Councillors’ expenses up on last year – but still far less than pre-pandemic

Convener Malcolm Bell chairs the first council meeting in the new chamber at St Ringan's church earlier this year. Photo: SIC

THE TOTAL expenses claimed by councillors in the last financial year was more than double that of the previous year, new figures show.

Shetland’s elected members claimed £5,683.60 in expenses in 2021/22, compared to £2,584.21 in 2020/21.

This may reflect in part the increased activity following Covid restrictions.

However more than half of Shetland’s councillors only claimed £14.75 in expenses.

Expenses total is far less than those in the years prior to the pandemic, with nearly £60,000 for instance recorded in 2019/20. The expenses bill took a dip when the Covid pandemic struck and meetings were held online and events were cancelled.

In total Shetland’s 22 councillors were given nearly £451,000 in salary and expenses in 2021/22, which is up by more than £20,000.

Image: SIC

The nationally set basic salary given to councillors in Scotland increased, from £17,853.96 per year to £18,603.96.

The highest salary in the last financial year went to leader Steven Coutts (£31,000), followed by convener Malcolm Bell (£23,260).

The two councillors – who held positions which usually involve the most travel south – also claimed the most expenses.

Chairs of the main committees received £21,550.45 and those leading the harbour board, college board, licensing committee and audit committee were given slightly less.

Total expenses claimed for telephone and ICT dropped from £1,967.08 last year to £218.57 in 2020/21.

Car and van mileage was up in 2021/22, with Weisdale based Coutts claiming the most at £966.

Most councillors did not claim any mileage, including those living in the most far-flung areas. However during the year remote attendance at meetings was permitted.

Attendance figures of councillors at meetings in 2021/22 have also been released.

Image: SIC

Shetland South member Robbie McGregor had the busiest diary with 56 meetings, and he returned five apologies.

Coutts attended 46 out of 50 – the second highest number of meetings – while Davie Sandison was present at 45 out of 47.

A number of members only missed one of their meetings – Theo Smith, Alastair Cooper, Allison Duncan, John Fraser and Moraig Lyall.

Just one elected member had no apologies – Shetland Central’s Ian Scott, but he only had 17 meetings in the diary. The North Isles’ Ryan Thomson had the most absences at 20, with all due to personal reasons.