Scottish Government sweet tooth costs £3k a month

Sweet treats such as Tunnock's teacakes are handed out at government meetings. Picture: TSPL

Sweet treats such as Tunnock's teacakes are handed out at government meetings. Picture: TSPL

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THE Government’s health department spent more than £1,500 in two months on thousands of biscuits at 54p each, croissants priced at £1.56 and 81p pieces of shortbread for events and meetings.

The super-sweet shopping list has been released as it emerged that the Scottish Government as a whole spent more than £3,000 every month on free shortbread, biscuits and danish pastries for guests and staff at its various ­offices.

It’s...baffling that the SNP went to such great lengths to try and keep this information secret

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone

A spokeswoman for the government said hospitality spend on sweet treats accounted for only a “small proportion” of events and meetings that take place.

But campaigners have demanded the sweet-toothed ­ministers rein in their sugar ­intake that comes at the taxpayer’s expense.

The Scottish Government was asked via freedom of information legislation to supply three years worth of confectionery costs for meetings and events, but following several months of appeals it claimed to be able to provide only two months of statistics due to cost issues in retrieving the information.

The figures, which covered August and September last year, revealed that the Victoria Quay offices in Edinburgh spent more than £2,000 on sweet treats in just two months, while government headquarters at St Andrews House, was the second biggest spender, at around £1,400 for the same period.

The government’s health department spent more than £1,500 in two months on thousands of biscuits at 54p each, ­croissants priced at £1.56 and 81p pieces of shortbread to be scoffed at events and meetings.

The lowest spending offices were the Marine Lab, which spent just £46.99 on 69 biscuits and seven home-baked scones.

The spending has been revealed a day after the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority said MPs will be banned from claiming expenses for tea, coffee, biscuits and dinner after May’s general election.

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone criticised the spending.

He said: “The public will be surprised the Scottish Government has seen fit to spend this much on shortbread.

“We know Alex Salmond liked to boast about handing out Tunnock’s teacakes at Bute House, but perhaps taxpayers would be less amused if they could see the final bill.

“It’s also baffling that the SNP went to such great lengths to try and keep this information secret.”

Eben Wilson, director of TaxpayerScotland, was also left ­unimpressed.

“Maybe the Scottish Government should look again at its departmental spending and put a circular around to all staff asking them to reconsider their sugar intake taken in at taxpayer expense,” he said.

“Tightening down on this sort of discretionary spending would help support frontline services – and presumably help reduce frontal expansion.”

A former senior civil servant, who asked not to be named, added: “When I started working 40 years ago you had to pass a hat round if wanted to buy ­biscuits.

“As a taxpayer I’m scandalised. Young civil servants these days are totally spoiled.”

But a Scottish Government spokeswoman defended the spending.

She said: “Catering provision is only permitted for events or meetings with external visitors.

“As these figures indicate, hospitality spend applies to only a small proportion of the events and meetings that take place.”

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