In a surprising turn of events, the Scottish National Party (SNP) is facing increased scrutiny for its expenditure of nearly £80,000 in taxpayer funds on publishing documents related to independence. This has sparked a heated debate over the appropriate use of public resources for what some deem a "pet project."
Taxpayer Money Spent on Independence
The controversy centers around the SNP's allocation of substantial public funds to champion the cause of independence. Critics argue that this represents a misuse of public finances, as these resources are intended for broader public benefit.
Role of Civil Servants
Behind the scenes, a dedicated team of 24 civil servants in the Scottish Government’s "constitutional futures" division has been instrumental in developing these documents. While the financial figures are staggering, it's essential to note that they don't account for the substantial hours invested by these civil servants in crafting the content that the SNP hopes will sway more Scots towards supporting independence.
Breakdown of Costs
The financial breakdown reveals that the first set of documents, published in June last year by Nicola Sturgeon, incurred costs of £18,992. This included expenses such as design costs (£4,000) and printing physical copies (£2,100). Four additional papers have been published since, bringing the total expenditure to £77,282.
Criticism and Calls for Investigation
The SNP's independence papers have drawn significant criticism for providing insufficient information about how an independent Scotland would address major challenges, including currency, pensions, and borders. Some argue that this expenditure should not be permitted, given that the constitution is a reserved issue.
Sir Simon Case, the head of the UK civil service, has expressed concerns about taxpayer-funded civil servants being used to advocate for breaking up the country. He has indicated that an investigation into this matter may be warranted.