Special Advisers expenses: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/00562
Date received: 19 February 2018
Date responded: 21 March 2018

Information requested

  • Number of advisers assigned/engaged by the First Minister.

  • The total cost of the advisers including fees, expenses, travel room and board

On 20 February you provided clarification of what you meant by "Advisers":

  • Taxpayer funded political advisers.


The correct title for the roles to which you are referring is Special Adviser. Some of the information you have requested has been provided previously in response to a Written Scottish Parliamentary Question (PQ). Under the terms of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, the First Minister is responsible for all Special Adviser appointments and is required to prepare an annual report setting out the number and cost of Special Advisers and to lay it before the Scottish Parliament. The reference number for the latest PQ that provides the information for 2016/17 is S5W-12960 and it was answered on 24.

November 2017. The information is provided on a financial year basis. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to provide you with information if it is already reasonably accessible to you. All Scottish PQs and their replies are published on the Scottish Parliament website. The search facility is available at:


In accordance with the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 the annual PQ information for 2017/18 will be published in due course.

Special Adviser expenses and travel and subsistence costs have been provided in calendar years. The total cost of Special Advisers' expenses and travel and subsistence costs for 2017 was £26,029.40. This figure includes expenses claimed through the Scottish Government iExpenses system and expenditure under the Scottish Government travel and accommodation contracts broken down as follows:

  • iExpenses = £1,455

  • Hotel accommodation = £6,188.06

  • Travel = £18,386.34

These expenses are primarily incurred by Special Advisers in supporting the First Minister and Scottish Ministers at events in other parts of the United Kingdom, including intergovernmental negotiations and on foreign visits to Europe and the United States of America taking forward the Scottish Government's programme. For your information, examples of such visits include:

  • supporting the First Minister in New York and San Francisco on visits to discuss potential trade and investment opportunities for Scotland and to boost Scotland's tourist industry;

  • supporting the First Minister at a range of engagements associated with her attendance and speech to the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik;

  • accompanying the First Minister to Dublin to meet with the new Taoiseach and engage with potential Irish investors at the Dublin Chamber of Commerce;

  • supporting the First Minister when she addressed the COP21 Plenary in Bonn on behalf of the UNFCCC Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action Change;

  • accompanying the First Minister to the British Irish Council in Jersey;

  • supporting Ministers at meetings of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations in London and in Cardiff;

  • supporting Ministers in London at the Devolved Administrations' meeting with the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs;

  • supporting Ministers in London at the Joint Ministerial Working Group on Welfare; and

  • supporting Ministers at the Confederation of the Highlands and Islands in Shetland.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses


Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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