SNP SQUANDERMANIA: £1.5m and rising – salary bill for civil servants working on indybin

By Lucy Ashton

More than £1.5 million of taxpayers’ cash will be spent annually funding a 25-strong team of civil servants – soon to become known as the Indy-yins – to work on the SNP Government’s independence push.

The response to a Scottish Conservative Freedom of Information request reveals the ever-rising cost of the unit set up by Nicola Sturgeon around the turn of the year to promote her case for independence.

Shadow Constitution Secretary Donald Cameron has criticised the Scottish Government for wasting public money on its “pet project” while simultaneously imposing “savage cuts” on essential public services.

And, following the Supreme Court ruling that the Scottish Government can’t unilaterally hold another referendum, he has demanded that this team be disbanded immediately and the civil servants in question be redeployed elsewhere.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accused by Donald Cameron MSP of “squandering huge sums of public money” on civil servants to work on independence.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution Donald Cameron MSP, said: “Most Scots will be appalled that Nicola Sturgeon is squandering huge sums of public money and civil service resources on her pet project at the same time as imposing savage cuts on key public services.

“It is further proof – if any were needed – that the SNP leader always puts her party’s interests before those of the country.

“By any objective measure the money has been wasted, too, because – as most legal experts predicted – the Scottish Government lost its case at the Supreme Court.

“In light of that ruling, there will be no referendum next year and so there is no justification for continuing to deploy civil servants in these roles.

“The Scottish Government’s independence unit must be disbanded now and the civil servants in question put to work on the issues that matter to people in Scotland, like the global cost-of-living crisis and the NHS, which is on its knees under this SNP-Green coalition.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s next step in pursuing her independence obsession is to try to frame the next General Election as a ‘de facto referendum’. Setting aside the arrogance of that strategy – it’s voters who decide the issues on which they vote – it is clearly a party-political SNP tactic, not something for the apparatus of government.

“Therefore, it would be utterly scandalous if independent, publicly-funded civil servants continued to be used for what is now purely SNP campaigning.”

It is estimated that the SNP Government will spend more than £1.5 million annually on staff working on the independence prospectus.

According to a Scottish Conservative freedom of information request, 24 officials are working on the independence prospectus and related work plus a senior civil servant.

Therefore, using the maximum annual salary of civil servants in each of these pay bands, the Scottish Government will spend a total of £1,532,664 on staff working on the independence prospectus. (Scottish Conservatives, Freedom of Information request, 15 November 2022, available on request; Scottish Government, 1 March 2022, link; Scottish Government, Pay grades within Scottish Government: FOI release, 17 May 2022, link).

Table (November 2022):

Civil service grade:

Max pay range:

Number of officials:

Total cost:

























Senior Civil Servant








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