Cost of government in Scotland has doubled since 2007, says Scottish Labour

The cost of government has ‘spiralled’ under the SNP, almost doubling since 2007, Scottish Labour has claimed.

Scottish Labour finance spokesperson Daniel Johnson hit out at the “astounding” increase in the cost of ministerial salaries, office staff and advisers in the last 14 years.

The party estimates that annual salary costs have almost doubled from £2.4 million in the first SNP government of 2007 to more than £4.5 million in 2021. Calculations are based on office numbers and median points on published pay scales.

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The number of cabinet secretaries, ministers and special advisers have all increased in this time. Labour also pointed to criticism of the cost of two recently appointed Scottish Green ministers.

The Scottish Government building at Victoria Quay, Leith

Patrick Harvie has become Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, while Lorna Slater is Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity.

In the wake of their appointment in August, Labour leader Anas Sarwar warned of Cabinet’s “ballooning” cost to the taxpayer.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said the figures “completely overlook” the increased devolved responsibility of the government since 2007.

But Mr Johnson said there was “no justifying” the “astounding” increases.

Daniel Johnson, Scottish Labour’s Finance spokesperson.

“For years the SNP have inflicted savage austerity on councils while sparing no expense funding their own bloated operation,” he said.

“These eye-watering increases might not sting so much if we could see what we were getting in return.

“Instead taxpayers are coughing up record amounts of money for a government delivering record levels of failure.

“No amount of money can buy the SNP a vision for Scotland.”

A spokesperson for Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the higher costs were in line with increased responsibilities, including Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“Labour’s so-called analysis completely overlooks the fact that the responsibilities of the Scottish Government have increased substantially since 2007,” the spokesperson said.

“Every new power devolved has been used to make Scotland a fairer country – whether that it is the more progressive income tax policy or the new social security system.

"The government is also continuing to deal with the unprecedented challenges of Brexit and the global pandemic.

“Since 2007, the SNP Government has transformed education, strengthened our NHS, introduced Scotland’s Baby Box and delivered over 100,000 affordable homes.

"While Labour snipe from the sidelines, the SNP Scottish Government is getting on with the day job - delivering progress and pursuing a progressive, transformative vision for the people of Scotland.”

Scottish Labour also pointed to previous comments from former SNP First Minister Alex Salmond.

Mr Salmond is quoted in 2006 as saying: “We could do with less ministers and therefore less ministerial departments, probably less executive agencies, certainly less special advisers, because I think one of the key attributes of joined-up government is to have less bits to join up.”

The number of cabinet secretaries in the Scottish Government has doubled from four to eight since 2007, Labour said.

The number of ministers has increased from ten to 17, while the number of special advisers has risen from nine to 17.

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