By Lucy Ashton
The Scottish Daily Express is reporting that Humza Yousaf has been accused of “misusing” the taxpayer funded ministerial car service after it was revealed he used it to travel between two of his homes in Dundee and Edinburgh, a journey of 56 miles, repeatedly.
Limos and chauffeurs are at the beck and call of government ministers to allow them to attend engagements and events, but using them in a personal capacity and as transport to work is frowned upon.
But when he was the failing Health Secretary, Mr Yousaf utilised the service to give him a lift between his two properties in Edinburgh and leafy Broughty Ferry in Dundee.
He did this twice in the same month in February on the 22nd and 24th. He is one of the more frequent users of the limos among ministers as he uses it to take him to Holyrood from his home often as well.
These journeys were in the days after he announced that he would be challenging for the SNP leadership, a contest he won following a bitter battle with Kate Forbes and
Unfortunately, all his ministerial trips from March 27 onwards will be kept secret due to Scottish Government protocol which means that all First Minister car journeys are not published.
Officials claim that this is due to Police Scotland advice. Numerous freedom of information requests by the Scottish Daily Express about this have been rejected.
Opposition critics blasted Mr Yousaf for using the expensive ministerial car service for his own travelling between homes instead of official engagements.
Scottish Conservative shadow minister for transport, Graham Simpson MSP said: “Use of government limos have a place when it comes to ministerial businesses, but they shouldn’t be used to chauffer around Humza Yousaf between private addresses.
“This practice is out-of-touch at a time when hard-pressed Scots are grappling with the cost-of-living crisis. This misuse of resources and taxpayers money should be stopped immediately.”
We previously told how the Scottish Government spent almost £1 million on the car service during the 2021/22 financial year, with most of that cash going towards maintenance, fuel and staff costs. A total of 28 vehicles are owned and operated by the administration.
Ministers use the car service to be ferried around engagements across the country, with some even using it to get to the Scottish Parliament and then back home.
The Express previously revealed how cabinet secretaries used the chauffeur-driven cars more than 400 times just to get to work and back in 2021.
Key front-benchers John Swinney, Keith Brown and Humza Yousaf were three of the biggest culprits for this, with the deputy first minister using it ten times in one month in June 2022.
Overall, since 2018 a total of £3,925,099 has been spent on maintenance, fuel and staff costs for the ministerial fleet of vehicles.The biggest cost is paying for staffing costs which includes paying for drivers, admin support salaries and employers’ contributions.
In 2021/22, £884,769 was spent on this, while £47,457 was splashed out on fuel which includes the purchase of diesel, petrol and electricity plus oil and screen wash. Meanwhile, £24,632 was spent on vehicle service and repairs.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Travel is an essential part of official Government business and Ministerial cars are used for business purposes only. The Government Car Service provides a secure environment to conduct sensitive Government business while travelling to and from engagements when public transport is not viable.”