MORE than 120 councillors have second jobs as political staffers, an exclusive data analysis by The National has found.

The popularity of the role for ­councillors is largely down to ­flexibility, it has been argued, after we put our findings to politicians. As the local authority role only has a base salary of just over £18,600, many representatives are evidently having to take on extra responsibilities to make ends meet and parties are ­facilitating.

Last week, all 32 local ­authority chiefs at Convention of Scottish ­Local Authorities (Cosla) passed a motion condemning the Scottish Budget as a “massive real-terms cut in councils’ core funding”. The implications of this on councillor pay is yet unknown, with a joint-review due to begin in early 2023.

The National created a data set from information contained in the registers of interests of 1192 councillors from 31 local authorities. Falkirk is excluded as the information is not available on the authority’s ­website, and they did not respond to our ­request for clarification.

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An analysis of our data established that 124 (10.4%) of 1192 councillors elected on May 5 2022 have declared that they either work for an MP or MSP. The roles varied from caseworkers to communications members and office managers.

The National found that 39 councillors work as staffers for MPs, 81 are employed by MSPs, and four are employed by both an MP and MSP.

The SNP had the largest number of staff employed (81), but also have more councillors, MPs and MSPs than any of the other parties included in the analysis. MSPs employ 47 as staffers, while MPs employ 31. Three SNP councillors work for both an MP and an MSP.

A total of 21 Tories declared that they have a second job as staffers, as did 10 Labour, five Scottish Greens and five LibDems.

Of the Tories, 18 are employed by MSPs while three are employed by MPs. Labour MSPs employ 10 ­councillors, and were none declared as working for the party’s only ­Scottish MP Ian Murray.

All Green’s work for MSPs, as the party does not have any elected ­representatives in Westminster. The LibDems employ one councillor as a staffer for an MSP, two are employed by MPs, and another holds positions with both an MSP and MP. Two independents disclosed that they work for MPs, one Tory and one SNP.

There are also more male staffers 72 (58%) than female, 52 (42%), which is a higher percentage of the gender breakdown on the total number of councillors counted in the data set – 775 (65%) male and 416 (35%) female.

Glasgow had the highest number of staffers on the local authority (19) and highest for both MSPs (12) and MPs (5). Followed by North Lanarkshire for both overall number of staffers (16) and MSPs (12). Edinburgh (10) comes third overall, with Aberdeenshire and Renfrewshire joint fourth (9).

A total of 26 out of 31 local authorities (83%) have councillors who are employed by MSPs or MPs.

Our analysis also found that eight councillors work for the UK ­Government in some capacity, one works for the Scottish Government, two for the Scottish Parliament, and 11 work at a local authority in a different capacity than their elected position.

The National: Ariane Burgess.

Arianne Burgess, local democracy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said: “One of the reasons so many councillors work for political parties is because parties understand the role and the time commitment it involves and offer a flexibility that not all ­employers are able to offer.”

Peter Barrett, a councillor in Perth and Kinross and the LibDem spokesperson for local government said;; “MSP or MP’s staff are often dedicated activists with strong views about how to help their local communities. It’s natural that many of them would want to get involved at council level.”

“I was a member of party staff when I first was elected as a councillor and have combined that with other roles over the 20 years since I was elected.”

The issue of low councillor pay is a key strand of the negotiations going on between Cosla and the Scottish Government, with the Scottish Local Authority Remuneration Committee (SLARC) due to reconvene early next year to investigate “in detail”.

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Cosla said they want councillors to be paid a Real Living Wage (£10.50), as a minimum.

“To meet the challenges local ­government faces we need realistic and proper remuneration that ­better reflects the role of a modern day councillor,” a spokesperson for Cosla said.

A number of councillors who work as staffers also had a secondary job. Tomorrow’s National will reveal what kind of other roles they undertake, as part of our data-led ­investigation.

The SNP, Scottish Tories and ­Scottish Labour did not respond to our request for comment.

In total there were 39 councillors working for MPs (3.2% of the total number of 1192 included in ­analysis; 81 working for MSPs (6.8%); the number of MP/MSP staffers was four (0.3%); there were 124  councillors in total working as staffers (10.4%); three had a political party role (0.25%); eight worked for the UK ­Government (0.67); one was ­employed by the ­Scottish ­Government (0.08); two worked for the Scottish Parliament (0.16%); three worked for councils (0.25%) and three had paid roles with local authority body Cosla (0.25%).