THE SNP'S Ronnie Cowan made expenses claims totalling tens thousands of pounds in excess of the average figure during the last full financial year whilst serving as Inverclyde's MP.

Mr Cowan claimed more than the typical amount paid out to other MPs for each of the 11 months between and including May 2019 and March 2020.

Mr Cowan's total expenses of £216,756 for the 2019/20 financial year — which included further staff recruitment during Covid — were £56,875 higher than the average amount.

His office staffing bill for the year was £144,912, he claimed £20,872 for travel and £19,809 to cover accommodation costs.

Mr Cowan today acknowledged overall wages for his staff may be higher than those for other MPs, but said that the people around him are 'remunerated appropriately'.

The MP added: "If any constituent wants to meet with me to discuss any aspect of my expenses and staffing costs, I am more than happy to accommodate them."

In May 2019 alone, Mr Cowan's expenses bill of £17,221 was £12,283 above the average figure for other MPs of £4,938.

In the month that the United Kingdom was plunged into lockdown in March last year, Mr Cowan claimed £149,816 (a figure including annual staffing costs), which was £27,155 higher than the average figure of £122,661.

The MP said: "I have always ensured that my staff are remunerated appropriately for the job they do.

"This and the fact that I have managed to keep a complete complement of staff may have resulted in a higher wage bill than some other offices.

"Only I know the dedication, professionalism and commitment that they have given to the Inverclyde community, and they often work extra hours to ensure that my constituents receive the best service they can, often in very difficult circumstances.

"During Covid I have taken on an extra caseworker which reflects the demands on the office to maintain the high standards we have set.

"My expenses and staffing costs are a matter of public record and are there for all to see since they are properly declared."

Mr Cowan added that the word 'expenses' was a misleading term.

He told the Telegraph: "These are costs to run the office and allow me to travel to Westminster.

"They are not expenses that end up in my pocket."


Ronnie Cowan MP expenses breakdown (with average for all MPs)

May 2019: claimed £17,221.81 (average £4,938.17)

June 2019: claimed £5,297.66 (average £4,023.50)

July 2019: claimed £8,680.94 (average £4,621.56)

August 2019: claimed £4,589.24 (average £2,977.64)

September 2019: claimed £3,808.21 (average £3,579.94)

October 2019: claimed £6,855.35 (average £4,130.14)

November 2019: claimed £4,196.04 (average £3,029.09)

December 2019: claimed £3,939.01 (average £2,396.48)

January 2020: claimed £5,724.45 (average £3,095.43)

February 2020: claimed £5,570.06 (average £3,370.20)

March 2020: claimed £149,816.31 (average £122,661.22).