THE cost to the taxpayer of Scotland Office spin doctors has been revealed amid accusations the department is wasting public money.

The SNP have branded the department – stripped of many of its previous responsibilities on the reconvention of the Scottish Parliament – a “zombie unit”.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack revealed his department last year spent £1,123,199 on communications staff, who send out press releases and answer journalists’ queries on the work of the Scotland Office.

This is an increase of £178,554 on the previous year and described as a “colossal waste of taxpayers’ money” by the SNP.

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The revelation came in response to a parliamentary written question from Philippa Whitford, who shadows Jack in the Commons.

The National:

The Scotland Office employs less than 20 press officers and four special advisers, who are ministers’ top aides.

The SNP accused the Scotland Office communications team of working solely to “undermine the good work of devolved institutions”.

On Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation, the Scotland Office press team released a frosty statement in Jack’s name thanking her for her work to “help us deliver two new freeports” but added her exit was a “welcome opportunity for the Scottish Government to change course, and to drop its divisive obsession with independence”.

The National:

Whitford (above), the SNP’s Scotland Office spokesperson said: “Spending over £1.1 million on spin doctors, whose only job seems to be to undermine the good work of devolved institutions, is a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. 

“Instead of wasting money on Westminster’s zombie unit, the UK government would be well advised to put that money towards tackling the Tory-made cost of living crisis.

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“At a time when energy bills are at an all-time high and inflation continues to soar, the idea that money of this magnitude is being wasted is a dereliction of duty – and falls on the head of ‘Baron Jack’.

“It’s clear that this Tory UK government does not, and never will, have Scotland’s interests or finances at heart.

“The only way to guarantee that Scottish taxes are spent on issues that benefit the people of Scotland is through independence.”

The Scotland Office defended its communications activities – and pointed out the Scottish Government’s substantial spend on press officers.

The Scottish Government spent around £3.7m on spin doctors last year, the Herald on Sunday reported.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The Scotland Office is staffed appropriately to deliver efficient and effective communications activity for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

"This includes providing information to the public on UK Government policies for households and communities, and ensuring that the views of stakeholders and businesses are being heard."