Are MLA’s value for money? judge.

MID-ULSTER MLA’s have racked up an expense bill topping £330,000 for the last nine months of 2011 according to latest figures.

But are constituents getting value for their money when it comes to paying for Assembly members ‘necessities’, which include an iPad, Sat Nav, picture frames and eye-watering mobile phone bills?

The MAIL has dissected the expenses of Mid-Ulster’s five current MLA’s, and the £44,000 expense bill of a former member still claiming from the public purse five months after giving up his seat.

IAN MCCREA (DUP)

THE DUP MLA recorded the highest claim amongst the four Mid-Ulster Assembly members at £61,232.

This includes running and staff costs for the MLA’s two offices in both Cookstown and Magherafelt.

In April and August he paid a total of £5,750 for research,

Total expense bill: £61,232 (Apr -Dec)

Office Cost Expenditure Excluding Support Staff Salaries: £16,677.25

Office Cost Expenditure - Support Staff Salaries: £40,004.53

Mileage claim (May -Dec): £4,359.25

Other Expenditure: £191.21 (Can include childcare, temporary secretarial allowance, support staff mileage, disability allowance and support staff statutory redundancy payments)

FRANCIE MOLLOY (Sinn Fein)

COMING in second is Sinn Fein’s Francie Molloy at £55,189.

The Deputy Speaker claimed rent and rates for two constituency offices on Cookstown’s Burn Road and The Square, Coalisland,

His claims include £14.40 for Rocwell water and two separate payments in October and December of £58.76 for waste collection to Dungannon Borough Council.

Total expense bill: £55,189

Office Cost Expenditure Excluding Support Staff Salaries: £18,840.29

Office Cost Expenditure - Support Staff Salaries: £30,865.52

Mileage claim (May -Dec): £2,276.80

Other Expenditure: £3,207.06 (Can include childcare, temporary secretarial allowance, support staff mileage, disability allowance and support staff statutory redundancy payments)

PATSY MCGLONE (SDLP)

THE SDLP representative was the third highest claimant among the Mid-Ulster MLA’s at £54,629.80.

His expense bill includes a claim for an iPad with a price tag of £563.00 and a Sat Nav system purchased at Halford’s for £109.99 in May.

Mr McGlone claims rates and rent for two offices - The SDLP office on Cookstown’s William Street and a constituency office located on the Coleraine Road, Maghera. His expenses include one eye-watering mobile phone bill of £214.73 paid in November.

Total expense bill: £54,629.80

Office Cost Expenditure Excluding Support Staff Salaries: £13,097.20

Office Cost Expenditure - Support Staff Salaries: £37,401.35

Mileage claim (May-Dec): £4,121.25

Other Travel : £10

BILLY ARMSTRONG (UUP - Not Sitting)

FORMER UUP MLA Billy Armstrong may have given up his seat in April but he was still able to claim over £44,000 on MLA expenses for the following nine months of 2011.

This included a lump sum Retirement Payment of £27,154 and Winding Up Expenditure (WUE) of £11,511.

WUE is paid to a former Member to allow him or her to bring their Assembly business to an orderly close.

Mr Armstrong’s WUE expenses include rent and rates up until September 2011 for his former constituency office, which was taken over by his daughter and predecessor Sandra Overend at the time, and £5,340.55 for Support Staff Costs.

Although retired, Mr Armstrong has told the MAIL that he still does work for party, though some of this work is not paid.

Total expense bill: £44,427.07

RetirementPayment: £27,154

Winding Up Expenditure (WUE): £11,511

Other Expenditure: £5,961.84 (Can include childcare, temporary secretarial allowance, support staff mileage, disability allowance and support staff statutory redundancy payments)

MARTIN MCGUINNESS (Sinn Fein)

THE DEPUTY First Minister, MP for Mid-Ulster and MLA has a big job on his hands when it comes to running the country, looking after his Mid-Ulster constituents and representing his voters in Westminster.

But Mr McGuinness’ expense bill is not as high as other fellow Assembly members coming in at £36,624.

Along with fellow Shinner Francie Molloy, Mr Guinness pays rent and rates for a constituency office situated at The Square, Coalisland with support staff costs of £27,632.79. Mr McGuinness also paid £1.01 to the Northern Ireland Assembly for stationary.

Total expense bill: £36,624

Office Cost Expenditure Excluding Support Staff Salaries: £8,991.96

Office Cost Expenditure - Support Staff Salaries: £27,632.79

MICHELLE O’NEILL (Sinn Fein)

MRS O’Neill’s expenses are one of the lowest for Mid-Ulster at just over £25,600.

The DARD Minister’s claim includes rent and rates for Sinn Fein’s Mid-Ulster hub in Gulladuff,

Between April to September the Sinn Fein MLA ran up an 02 mobile phone bill of £1249.15.

She also claimed £35.88 for two storage boxes in November last year.

Total expense bill: £25,620

Office Cost Expenditure Excluding Support Staff Salaries: £16,122.56

Office Cost Expenditure - Support Staff Salaries: £8,259.82

Mileage claim (Mar-Jul): £1,248.00

SANDRA OVEREND (UUP)

COMING in as the lowest Mid-Ulster MLA expense claimer is the UUP’s Sandra Overend.

She claimed £25,328.25 between April and December last year, though this figure may be down to the fact the MLA only had one claim in for rent, a total of £1,920.00, paid in December for her new constituency office situated on Moneymore’s High Street.

Winding Up Expenditure (WUE) claimed by predecessor Billy Armstrong, who is also her father, covered the cost of rent and rates for the UUP’s former constituency office across the street, which Sandra also used following election.

This meant Mrs Overend did not have to claim for either whilst Mr Armstrong finished up official business from April to July.

Other claims made during the period include £250 worth of pictures and picture frames, a House of Fraser Mat at £17.50 and a £43 flask.

Total expense bill: £25,328.25

Office Cost Expenditure Excluding Support Staff Salaries: £14,324.70

Office Cost Expenditure - Support Staff Salaries: £9,445.35

Mileage claim: £1,054.80

Other Travel £15.40

Subsistence: £82.50 (Payable in respect of expenses incurred when a Member’s is away from his or her normal place of residence on Assembly business.)

Other Expenditure: £405.50 (Can include childcare, temporary secretarial allowance, support staff mileage, disability allowance and support staff statutory redundancy payments)

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