THE cost of running the UK Government’s flagship hub in Edinburgh has been revealed to add up to more than £11million annually, prompting accusations a "monumental" amount of money is being wasted on a “PR stunt”.

Staff began moving into the seven-storey Queen Elizabeth House in 2020, which is designed to house around 3000 civil servants from a range of departments, and it was formally opened two years later by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.

At the time, he described as a further “visible and tangible sign” of ministers delivering on pledge to strengthen the UK - but the SNP accused the UK Government of treating themselves to “swanky new offices at the public's expense”.

Meanwhile the UK Government has declined to say whether the Cabinet has ever used a dedicated room in the building for it to meet - which was billed as being the first of its kind outside London.

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A response from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – which manages the hub - to a Freedom of Information request has revealed the average gross operating costs of Queen Elizabeth House between April 2022 and March 2023 was £935,049 per month. 

This adds up to a total of £11,220,585 for the financial year.

It also states that moving to HMRC regional centres will result in millions of pounds of savings – but says “no cost-benefit analysis” of the use of the Queen Elizabeth has taken place.

Commenting on the costs, an SNP source said: "These figures lay bare what a monumental waste of money this UK government PR stunt is. This is £11 million every year that should be spent on the NHS, public sector pay deals, and supporting people through the cost of living crisis".

Queen Elizabeth House is one of the regional hubs and headquarters opened by the UK Government – including in Glasgow and Cardiff – which came with a commitment to have a regular ministerial presence.

But a report from the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) published in July found this had not been met, with ministers “making flying visits rather than basing themselves outside London for significant amounts of time to conduct substantive work.”

In 2019, then Scottish Secretary David Mundell announced Queen Elizabeth House would include a dedicated Cabinet room, the first of its kind outside London – and the Cabinet would be invited to meet in the building once it had been opened.

However the PACAC report noted in July that it “does not appear to have been used to host the Cabinet to date”, with the same situation in a hub opened in Cardiff.

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The Sunday National asked the UK Government to respond to the criticism of the costs of Queen Elizabeth House, as well as provide information on how many ministers spend significant time working there and if the dedicated Cabinet meeting room has been used to host the Cabinet as yet.

A UK Government spokesperson said: "Queen Elizabeth House is the UK Government’s flagship building in Edinburgh providing a base for more than 25 UK Government departments which all have a key role in delivering even better services for people and businesses in Scotland.

“Moving to regional centres will save HMRC alone around £300 million cumulatively up to financial year 2025/26 before delivering annual cash savings of £74 million in 2025/26 and rising to £90 million in 2028/29.”

Speaking in 2019 ahead of the opening of the hub, SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, said: "The SNP has already exposed just how much the Scotland Office's PR spending has increased under the Tories in recent times, so it's not surprising that UK government departments are treating themselves to swanky new offices at the public's expense.”