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Data released by the SNP led Scottish Government reveals that Nationalist ministers have 15 special advisers (SPAD’s) who will provide party political guidance for the 2021/22 financial year. SPADs also give support that would be inappropriate for the civil service to provide, for example, advice on how to bring forward a second independence referendum.
Based on the 15 appointees, analysis shows collectively that the wage bill for SNP led Scottish Government staff is expected to be around £940,000 for the 2021/22 financial year.
However, an additional two special advisers are set to be appointed as a result of the cooperation deal struck between the Scottish Greens and the SNP.
Under the draft agreement which is still yet to be approved by the Scottish Greens, two special advisers will assist two new junior Green ministers and will be paid a salary of at least £41,000 per year taking the bill for 2021/22 above £1m.
Among the staff in the list includes Liz Lloyd, who will join the Scottish First Minister’s team as a “strategic adviser focused on long-term transformational policies for Scotland.”
Ms Sturgeon’s former chief of staff was at the centre of allegations in March during which suggested she had intervened in the handling of sexual misconduct complaints against former First Minister Alex Salmond.
But in a written submission to the Scottish Parliament, Ms Lloyd denied the allegations
At the time, the Scottish First Minister insisted she had full confidence in Ms Lloyd however she announced last week she was leaving her chief of staff position.
Daniel Johnson MSP, Scottish Labour finance spokesperson, obtained the list when asking a Holyrood Parliamentary question.
The Edinburgh South MSP said: “The SNP’s political operation is spiralling – and it’s taxpayers who are footing the bill.
“The SNP/Green coalition cooked up in smoke-filled rooms [will] send the cost even higher.
“We see the number of spads and ministers piling up to the astonishing sum of more than £1m, but there is no sign we’re getting any value for money.
“Hiring more expensive advisers on the public purse is no substitute for political vision – something that the SNP sorely lack.”
Jackie Baillie MSP, deputy leader of Scottish Labour added of Ms Lloyd, who will be paid a salary of £100,00 in her new role: “We have yet another person leaving in the aftermath of the Salmond inquiry, but it seems increasingly unlikely that anyone will take any real responsibility for what went so badly wrong.
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“The culture of secrecy and sleaze at the heart of the SNP goes beyond a few individuals, and it will take more than moving staff around to fix the profound problems exposed during the inquiry.
“The fact that Liz Lloyd has been demoted but remains on the same salary is astonishing, and questions need to be asked about who paid for her time off for the last four months.
“This is taxpayers’ money, and the SNP needs to be held to account for rewarding failure.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson, said: “Special advisers provide important assistance to ministers on the development of policy and its presentation.
“Their appointment is designed to reinforce the political impartiality of the permanent Civil Service by providing ministers with a separate channel for political advice and assistance.
“Their pay arrangements are consistent with the Government’s public sector pay policy.”
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