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Nicola Sturgeon doubles taxpayers bill to £4.5m for army of spin doctors and Ministers

Analysis by Scottish Labour reveals the bill for the SNP-led Scottish Government has almost doubled since the Nats first came into power in 2007 under Alex Salmond. During this time, the number of Cabinet Secretaries doubled from 4 to 8 and the number of ministers has increased from 10 to 17.

The number of special advisers supporting the SNP-led administration has also risen from 9 to 17.

As a result, the yearly cost of ministerial salaries, office staff and advisers has shot up from £2.4 million during the SNP’s first term of government in 2007.

Excluding the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, this is a 100 percent increase over the Nats 14 years in power.

Daniel Johnson, Scottish Labour finance spokesperson accused the SNP of running a "bloated operation” in Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh Southern MSP added: “There is no justifying these astounding increases.

“For years the SNP has inflicted savage austerity on Councils while sparing no expense funding their own bloated operation.

“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.

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

Meanwhile, taxpayers are also due to fork out millions for the SNP's pact with the Scottish Greens.

An agreement between the two Holyrood parties, which saw two Scottish Green MSPs enter government and a move towards a shared policy platform, was announced in August.

Scottish Labour claimed the agreement would cost the Scottish taxpayer more than £380,000 each year in Ministerial salaries for Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater alongside private office staff and special adviser salaries.

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Mr Harvie serves as Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants' Rights and Ms Slater is Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity.

This would mean until the end of the next Holyrood term in 2026, the agreement would cost Scots more than £2 million extra.

Mr Johnson added: “It is obscene that we are footing a multi-million-pound bill for the Green Party’s taxpayer-funded vanity project while essential services across Scotland are stretched to breaking point.

“When voters were promised funding for green jobs I don’t think this is what they had in mind.

“The First Minister gives away Ministerial positions like Blue Peter badges, but there’s no sign that they have any real influence over the SNP’s zealously centralising leadership.”

Defending the size of her Government, Ms Sturgeon argued earlier this year that every Scottish Government minister was “fully occupied and working hard every day to deliver on the commitments and policies of this government."

A spokesman for Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Labour’s so-called analysis completely overlooks the fact that the responsibilities of the Scottish Government have increased substantially since 2007.

“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.”