Ministers spent tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money running the public consultation for a second referendum on Scottish independence, internal figures have revealed.
A total of £22,593 was spent preparing the consultation and analysing the responses from members of the public, records released following a Freedom of Information request show.
The consultation was ordered by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU despite Scotland voting strongly to Remain.
At the time the SNP leader described another independence vote as “highly likely”, but last month she postponed her plans after her party lost 21 seats at the general election.
The consultation, which ran for three months from October 2016, attracted more than 7,500 submissions. Most of the money spent by the Scottish Government went towards analysing its results.
The work by research consultancy Griesbach & Associates cost more than £16,000, with a further £1,700 spent converting it for the web and into British Sign Language. Running and publishing the consultation itself cost taxpayers £4,845.
One of the conclusions of the consultation analysis was that most people in Scotland supported a total ban on any public cash being put towards any future referendum.
Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden said: “This is tens of thousands of pounds that could have been saved if the SNP had listened to us the first time when we voted No in 2014.”
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The SNP needs to stop billing taxpayers for its independence fantasy and get back to the day job of fixing the mess it has made of our public services.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said the costs of the consultation were comparable with others of a similar size. He added: “This consultation is vitally important in ensuring the technical procedures around any future referendum are robust, fair and transparent.”