Tories condemn £1.5m spent on civil servants for SNP’s ‘pet project’

Donald Cameron said work on the independence campaign should be disbanded following the Supreme Court judgment.

Independence supporters
Independence supporters

More than £1.5 million of public money will be spent annually on civil servants who have been tasked to work on the independence campaign, figures show.

Data obtained by the Scottish Conservatives using freedom of information legislation shows there are 25 officials working on the prospectus.

Using the maximum annual salary of civil servants in each of the pay bands, the Tories calculated the Scottish Government will spend a total of £1,532,664 on staff working on the independence prospectus.

One official, a senior civil servant, is in the highest pay band where the maximum salary is £83,233, the figures show.

Five officials earn less than £47,000 on the lowest two pay ranges, followed by one who is paid £47,485 each year.

Donald Cameron
Tory Donald Cameron said the civil servants should be working on issues relating to the cost-of-living and health crises (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Following that, nine staff fall within the C1 pay band up to £62,167, eight civil servants are on £75,341 and one earns £77,340.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Donald Cameron condemned the Government for using taxpayers’ money on its “pet project”.

The figures come in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment which ruled the UK Government would need to authorise the Scottish Parliament to legislate for an independence referendum.

Following the ruling, Mr Cameron urged the Scottish Government to move the civil servants on to work that tackles the cost-of-living crisis or issues facing the NHS.

He said: “Most Scots will be appalled that Nicola Sturgeon is squandering huge sums of public money and civil service resources on her pet project at the same time as imposing savage cuts on key public services.

“It is further proof, if any were needed, that the SNP leader always puts her party’s interests before those of the country.”

The Supreme Court ruling, he said, means there will be “no referendum next year” – despite SNP plans to put the vote to the electorate in October.

He said: “In light of that ruling, there will be no referendum next year and so there is no justification for continuing to deploy civil servants in these roles.

“The Scottish Government’s independence unit must be disbanded now and the civil servants in question put to work on the issues that matter to people in Scotland, like the global cost-of-living crisis and the NHS, which is on its knees under this SNP-Green coalition.”

On First Minister Ms Sturgeon’s announcement that her party will approach the general election, expected by January 2025, as a de facto independence referendum, Mr Cameron said: “Setting aside the arrogance of that strategy – it’s voters who decide the issues on which they vote – it is clearly a party-political tactic, not something for the apparatus of Government.

“Therefore, it would be utterly scandalous if independent, publicly funded civil servants continued to be used for what is now purely SNP campaigning.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government accepts the outcome of the recent Supreme Court judgment.

“In light of majority support within the Scottish Parliament for an independence referendum, Scottish ministers remain ready to engage with the UK Government at any point on delivering that referendum.

“The Scottish Government will continue to set out, through the Building a New Scotland prospectus series, what could be done with the full powers of independence, reflecting clear Programme for Government commitments.”

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