Downing Street has spent more than £2.6 million on refurbishments ahead of plans to hold White House-style press briefings, according to the PA news agency.

The cost of the refurbishments for the televised question and answer sessions with journalists was revealed as Boris Johnson faces pressure over the funding of a separate renovation to his No 10 flat.

Labour questioned the prime minister’s priorities for spending millions on “vanity projects” while “picking the pockets” of NHS workers, amid growing anger at the Government proposing a pay rise for health staff of just 1%.

An extensive overhaul within No 9 Downing Street began last year as the Government announced the plans to hold the televised briefings, with their launch long-delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, the Cabinet Office issued a breakdown of the costs on Friday totalling £2,607,767.67, largely excluding VAT.

The department said that funds have been spent to allow daily broadcasting by various news organisations within the Grade I listed building, commenting: “This will necessarily require one-off capital works, including audio-visual equipment, internet infrastructure, electrical works and lighting.

“This spending is in the public interest as the new broadcasting of lobby briefings will increase public accountability and transparency about the work of this Government now and in the future.

“Such spending on maintenance and technical facilities reflects that 9 Downing Street (the Privy Council Office) is a Grade I listed building.”

Opposition MPs have seized on the project as a point of contrast with the Government’s recommendation of a 1% pay rise for NHS workers despite the unprecedented pressure they suffered during the coronavirus pandemic.

As nurses considered taking industrial action, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “It would take around 100 years for a newly qualified nurse to get paid this kind of money.

“It sums up Boris Johnson’s warped priorities that he can find millions for vanity projects, while picking the pockets of NHS workers.”

Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Daisy Cooper, added: “This is nothing more than an expensive vanity project and is just more evidence that this Government’s priority is spin, not substance.

“The prime minister himself said that he ‘owed his life’ to Covid doctors and nurses but now he’s happy to see front-line nurses take a real-terms pay cut, whilst he gets a flashy new TV studio – the prime minister should hang his head in shame.”

The FoI response, which was delayed by several weeks as officials decided whether the disclosure was in the public interest, included £1,848,695.12 for the “main works”.

Other costs included £198,023.75 on “long lead items”, and £33,394.63 on broadband equipment.

The disclosure came as the prime minister faces additional pressure over the refurbishment of his official flat above No 11 overseen by his fiancee, Carrie Symonds.

With costs reported to be spiralling, Downing Street refused to deny that Mr Johnson is considering setting up a charity to pay for the works to the flat.

The move raised concerns of possible conflicts of interest, offering a potential backdoor to providing a financial benefit to the PM.

Former journalist Allegra Stratton – now press secretary to the prime minister – is set to lead the televised briefings on a reported salary of £100,000 a year.

The launch had been anticipated as early as autumn 2020, but No 10 said they were being delayed as ministers planned to hold regular press conferences during the lockdown.

Lobby correspondents, the political reporters based in Parliament, currently have daily briefings with the prime minister’s official spokesman, or his deputy. Both are civil servants.

But under proposals set out last July, an afternoon session will be filmed at 9 Downing Street and will be led by Ms Stratton.

As a politically-appointed special adviser, rather than an impartial civil servant, she will be able to take aim at opponents as well as defend the Government’s actions.