Coalition’s adviser costs up to £6.8m

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The UK government’s bill for special advisers has risen by £600,000 to £6.8 million this year – the same level as under Gordon Brown.

Despite the Coalition Agreement pledging a “limit” on special adviser numbers, latest figures showed there were 85 last month, up from 81 in July. At the end of the Labour administration, there were 80.

Recent additions include David Cameron’s deputy chief of staff Oliver Dowden, who earns £125,000, and Nick Clegg’s director of strategy Ryan Coetzee on £110,000. The Cabinet Office said the predicted 2012-13 bill, including salary, severance pay and contributions, was now £6.8m.

Downing Street said the costs overall were still lower than under Labour.