Breakdown of Civil Servant and Minister travelling expenses: FOI release

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

Information requested

Information on civil servants' travelling expenses, specifically:

1. How much the Scottish Government has spent on civil servant travelling expenses over the last five years, with a breakdown for how much has been spent each year?

2. How many flights civil servants have been sent on for official business over the last five years, with a breakdown for each year and how much each flight cost?

3. Where the flights were from and to.

On 10 January 2022 you clarified that travelling expenses should include travel costs and mileages (to be broken down into the two categories), and that you are interested in both contract travel and staff expenses claims.


Please accept my apologies for the delay in issuing the response to your request.

I enclose most of the information you requested, below and in the attached Excel file. The response includes travelling expenses incurred by civil servants and Ministers. The notes explain which elements of the expenses include Ministerial travel costs.

Details of Ministerial travel and gifts are pro-actively published and can be found on the Scottish Government website:

Part 1 – spend on travelling expenses

The table below summarises the amount spent on travelling expenses over the past five years.

Table 1: Annual spend on travelling expenses, 2017 to 2021:

  Year 1 (January 1 to December 31)
  2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

Travelling Expense Type

Total Spend Per Anum, GBP (£)
Staff expenses - travel £291,700 £342,800 £349,400 £100,000 £60,300
Staff expenses - mileage £659,000 £613,600 £656,000 £372,000 £332,000
Procurement card - travel (1) - - £37,000 £13,000 £11,200
Contract Travel (2) £3,065,000 £3,616,700 £3,873,000 £1,038,400 £332,000
Total £4,015,700 £4,753,100 £4,915,400 £1,523,400 £735,500

1. Procurement card data is held for a rolling 3-year period. The spend on the procurement cards shown covers 15 January 2019 to 28 December 2021. Spend on the procurement cards may include Ministerial travel.

2. Contract spend for years 2017, 2018 and 2019 includes any Ministerial flights purchased through the travel agent.

Part 2 – number of flights

Table 2 below shows the number of flights provided by our contracted travel agent from 2017-2021. Information on any flights booked directly is not held centrally and providing this would exceed the upper cost limit of £600 under section 12 of the Regulations.

You should note that these are individual flights between airports: a visit abroad may comprise several flights.

Table 2: Number of contract flights taken annually, 2017 to 2021:

  Year 1 (January 1 to December 31)
  2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
  Total number of flights per year
Contract Travel
Air 8,611 9.083 5,818 1,492 365

Number of flights in 2017, 2018 and 2019 include Ministerial flights purchased through the travel agent.

Little Ministerial travel was undertaken in 2020 and 2021 and it was feasible to remove these flights manually from the dataset.

Parts 2 and 3 - breakdown of flights taken including cost per flight, origin and destination.

The attached file (202200269284 - Civil servants travelling expenses - Contract Travel, flight details 2019 to 2021) provides a breakdown of the flights taken for years 2019 to 2021. The data is arranged over three tabs, by calendar year. Fields included are: date of journey (all outbound flight dates, and return flight dates where applicable and available), origin, final destination, route details and cost (including taxes, baggage and any additional charges). An additional field has been provided for flights taken since the middle of March 2020 to detail the reason for the flight.

The 2019 breakdown includes Ministerial flights booked through the travel contractor as it was not possible to remove this information from the data available. Ministerial travel is not included in the 2020 and 2021 breakdown. Full details of Ministerial engagements, travel and gifts are published proactively. Flights taken in relation to public inquiries are excluded from parts 1, 2 and 3 of this request. Public inquiries are exempt from FOISA under section 37 of the Act. The flight information referred to would divulge information about the workings of the inquiry and the detailed arrangements for private sessions and other interviews.

As noted above, flight breakdown information has been provided for years 2019-2021 only. To provide this information for the whole five year period requested would have exceeded the upper cost limit of £600. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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