The Scottish Parliament Select Committee on Local Government and Communities is undertaking a review of the payments made to Returning Officers for their work at elections.
Concerns were raised in the media about the amount of money that Returning Officers receive because they are already highly paid officials.
In my evidence, I suggest that Returning Officers play:
‘3. …an essential role in the electoral process. They face an increasingly challenging job. They have therefore been able to reclaim a fee for their services to recognise that their role is independent of their other tasks. Some Returning Officers use their fee to pay more junior staff, who work hours above and beyond their normal duties at election time, there should be caution in scrapping or making rapid reductions to it.
4. It is, however, right that the fee is regularly reviewed, especially in the context of resource constraints within electoral services and wider public sector austerity. There might be some opportunity to divert resources to other areas of elections.
5. There should… be a wider review of funding of elections in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Essential to this is the routine reporting of funding and spending to ensure transparency, increase public confidence and allow an analysis of areas requiring further investment or efficiency savings.’