SPENDING on pot plants and cut flowers at the Scottish Government has hit more than £130,000 over the last three years, according to figures released yesterday.
The statistics, obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats under freedom of information, reveal that outlay on flowers has risen steadily since 2010, hitting £56,378 in the last financial year.
Officials declared in their response that flowers and plants were bought to brighten up the Scottish Government’s offices and for official events.
However, the Lib Dems last night declared that it was time for the SNP to “prune” its spending given the overall squeeze on the public purse.
Last night, Scottish Lib Dem business manager Alison McInnes said: “Scottish ministers don’t come up smelling of roses after spending more than £130,000 on pot plants and flowers in the past three years. Our figures show that ministerial private offices spent nearly £26,000.
“At a time when people still have to tighten their purse-strings, many will be surprised that the Scottish Government is spending this kind of money cultivating plants when it would be better spent cultivating jobs and growth.
“Scottish ministers should prune this growing spend.”
The spending breakdown shows costs rose from £34,769 in 2010-11 to £39,125 in 2011-12 and then to £56,378 in 2012-13. The highest spending department was Governance and Communities whose costs shot up from £19,500 in 2011-12 to £33,816 in 2012-13.
Officials said the increase was due to a “new facilities management contract . . . that repriced the provision of office plants”.
The Enterprise department also recorded spending in excess of £12,000 for the last full year. It paid for the costs of organisations such as the Registers of Scotland and Transport Scotland when they too purchased plants.
The rest of the spending – £26,000 over three years – came from ministerial private offices, and on “visits and events”.
A spokesperson for the First Minister hit back last night. He declared: “Perhaps the Liberal Democrats should be more concerned with the fact they support an unelected House of Lords mired in an expenses scandal.
“Of course, with independence we will save the taxpayer around £50 million a year on the current costs of running Westminster.”
Other hospitality costs met by the SNP government over recent months included the launch of the Scottish Asian Woman’s Association.
The Scottish Government spent £444 on flowers for the organisation’s launch at Stirling Castle, as part of a £16,000 package of support for the event.
The costs are in line with spending by the Welsh Government, which has also been criticised for spending £100,000 on plants.