Preparatory work on referendum on Scottish independence: FOI release

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

Information requested

During a television interview yesterday, the First Minister said (of a referendum on Scottish independence) “The preparatory work for that is underway right now. We haven’t decided on the date that we would seek to introduce the Bill. We’ll decide that in the coming weeks." "But my intention is to take the steps that will facilitate a referendum happening before the end of 2023."

Clearly, there is a cost associated with these plans with that cost being paid by the public in Scotland.

1. When did this “preparatory work” start?

2. How many individuals are involved in these preparations? Please provide the structure (without naming any individuals) of the “Indyref Unit”.

3. What is the total cost thus far of the planning for “Indyref 2”? This should include a close approximation of civil servants working on these plans.


1. The 2021/22 Programme for Government (PfG) set out that the Scottish Government will work to ensure that a legitimate and constitutional referendum can be held within this Parliamentary term, if the Covid crisis is over, and that a detailed prospectus for an independent Scotland will be prepared to allow the people of Scotland to make an informed choice over their future. Since then, preparatory work for the implementation of these PfG commitments has been under way.

2. At 24 January 2022, the team preparing legislation to hold an independence referendum comprises of two officials, and the team responsible for co-ordinating the independence prospectus comprises of eleven officials and one Senior Civil Servant. The work to prepare an independence prospectus will also draw on other officials across a range of portfolios who will contribute to varying extents as part of their wider responsibilities in supporting the Scottish Government.

3. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we cannot do so. The reason for this is in line with usual practice, details of individual tasks carried out by civil servants including the number of hours spent on them are not recorded because there is no business need to do this.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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