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New figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives revealed nearly £4million is being spent by the SNP led Scottish Government on top officials on an annual basis. The stark data revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed 38 Scottish Government civil servants take home more than £100,000.
It comes as thousands of Scottish businesses fight to remain open during the Coronavirus pandemic with the Scottish economy nearly 10% smaller than it was at the end of 2019 due to the virus, according to Government figures.
The FOI passed to Express.co.uk revealed seven of the top officials were part of the Scottish Government’s Constitution and External Affairs portfolio.
The section, led by Constitution Secretary Michael Russell, has come under fire in recent years because they focus on policy areas reserved to the UK Government.
Alongside this, the data reveals a further ten are part of the economy team whilst an additional 12 of the high paid staffers work across education, health, justice and finance portfolios.
The Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government Lesley Evans is also included in the list whilst a further eight top officials work in Organisational Development and Operations.
At the same time, Ms Sturgeon’s team of spin doctors have been given a large pay rise following an internal review.
Ms Sturgeon special advisers received the increases with “resultant pay rises” backdated to October of last year.
Scottish Government figures reveal the 14 aides cost Scottish taxpayers more than £1million last year with one senior official handed a taxpayer-funded pay rise of about £20,000 alone.
The figures revealed the total overall cost of Ms Sturgeon’s team to taxpayers was £1,064,405 last year, an increase of £155,098 on 2018.
A “pay structure review and job evaluation” took place early this year which subsequently triggered the pay increases.
Annie Wells MSP, Scottish Conservatives Local Government spokeswoman, said the SNP’s priorities were “in the wrong place.”
He added: “The nearly £4 million shelled out on these expensive officials is going to make average Scottish taxpayer wince.
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“It is pretty shocking that so many of these civil servants are part of a constitution department.
“It has no real power and has been used by the SNP as a political plaything to cause trouble with the UK Government and promote their separatist agenda.
“Small businesses facing a particularly difficult Christmas and New Year are going to be definitely riled up at these luxurious pay packets and I can’t blame them.”
Danielle Boxall, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Many Scots will question if mandarins deserve these gold plated salaries.
“All too often we see civil servants underperform at taxpayers’ expense.
“Given the current economic circumstances, the Scottish government must try everything possible to cut its wage bill.”
In response to the FOI figures, a spokesperson for Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “This is the height of hypocrisy, even by the Tories’ standards – there are hundreds of civil servants in the UK government departments they run who earn more than £150,000 a year.
“But what this really shows is that the Scottish Tories, by attacking hard-working and dedicated civil servants, have zero expectation of being in government and working with them anytime soon.”
Commenting on the special adviser pay increases, Graeme Dey MSP, Minister for Parliamentary Business, added: “To put special advisers’ pay arrangements on a consistent footing with other SG civil servants, a pay structure review and job evaluation exercise was undertaken.”
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