Preparations for a future independence referendum: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. How many hours are being used each week/month by Scottish Government civil servants working on preparations for an independence referendum and on preparation for independence?

2. What is the cost in salaries per week/month of this work?

3. Which departments of the Scottish Government has each individual civil servant been seconded / assigned from?

4. What were the levels of promotion of the posts that each of the civil servants were previously in?

5. Which Government Minister do the civil servants report to?

6. Can the public expect to be informed of their progress?

7. When can their report be available to the public?


For part 1 of your request, the Scottish Government does not routinely record details of individual tasks carried out by civil servants, including the number of hours spent on them, as 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 some of the information you have requested.

You may be interested in recently published information which relates to staffing on preparations for an independence referendum. This publication also addresses your second question about civil service salaries. This information can be found at: Preparations for a second independence referendum: FOI release - ( An exemption under 25(1) of FOISA applies to some of the material in scope. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

For part 3 and 4 of your request, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The previous departments and pay grades of individuals is personal data and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

As part of our commitment to be an open and transparent government we can disclose details of senior civil servants. The Deputy Director for Constitutional Futures moved to the Directorate for Constitution and Cabinet from the Directorate for External Affairs on a level transfer.

The officials within the Constitution and Cabinet Directorate who are responsible for coordinating preparations for an independence referendum report to the Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture.

Turning to part 6 and 7 of your request, 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.

About FOI

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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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