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30 December 2016

Tories Dipping Off Scottish Public Spending as Spin Operation Doubles

Scotland Office Spending Out of Control as Scottish Government Faces Cuts

SNP MSP for Banffshire & Buchan Coast, Stewart Stevenson has called for answers over out-of-control spending at the Scotland Office as new figures show that the cost of Secretary of State David Mundell’s department has rocketed 20% since 2011/12, at the same time as the Scottish Government’s budget has been cut by the UK Government, and the devolution of significant new powers to the Scottish Parliament means the work of the UK Government in Scotland is lower than ever before.

New figures verified by the House of Commons Library revealed that the expenditure of the Scotland Office - which answers to the only Scottish Tory MP David Mundell - has soared by an eye-watering 20% in real terms since 2011/12. Confirmation of Mr Mundell’s department’s spending comes as the Scottish Government revenue budget – the funds that pay for Scottish public services – has been cut by the Tories by almost 2% in real terms over the same period. In effect the Tories are creaming off money that should go to the Scottish Government to spend on public services to instead increase spending for the Tory-run Scotland Office.

In summer, parliamentary questions from SNP MPs revealed that at least part of this increase has been prompted by the rapidly increasing cost of the Scotland Office political spin operation. Since 2011/12, the expenditure of the Scotland Office on communications has more than doubled to £426,223.

Mr Stevenson has said there are some serious questions for the Tories to answer about where the money is going and why the Tories are happy to give massive increase in budgets to their own department whose responsibilities are limited at the same time as cutting the Scottish Government’s budget.

The MSP also said the revelation that Scotland Office spending had increased was particularly galling, as the transfer of new powers to Scotland means the work of the Scotland Office has been reduced.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson MSP said,

“The Scotland Office has long been a zombie department with next to no responsibilities. And with more powers transferring to the Scottish Government, as David Mundell so enjoys telling us, it would be interesting to hear his explanation for why his department requires such an enormous increase in its budget.

“We know that the budget for Mundell’s army of spin doctors and publicity campaigns to promote the benefits of the Union to the people of Scotland has more than doubled. Perhaps he needs the extra help in trying to devise a believable reason for why he has u-turned on the Single Market and why he believes the people of Scotland should suffer Brexit despite not voting for it.

“At a time when households are being told by the Tories to tighten their belts and Scotland’s budget which pays for public services is being cut so savagely to the tune of £2.6 billion by 2019/20, people are entitled to ask just what David Mundell has done to deserve his budget boost and what is he spending it all on?

“David Mundell’s Tory colleagues in the Scottish Parliament were quick to criticise the SNP back in summer over spending on the National Survey – a complaint that turned out to be without foundation. If they are so concerned by the use of public funds to support political ends, then I hope they will support my call for David Mundell to explain just exactly what his Department’s budget boost is funding.

“David Mundell has to come clean this Christmas and tell us where all this extra money is going – and how it can be justified at a time when the Tories are telling us there are cuts to come for real services that people depend on.’’

Stewart Stevenson
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