Special Adviser expenses in past 5 years: FOI release

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

Information requested

  1. How many Special Advisers were employed in each of the past five years and what was the total salary cost in each year?
  2. What was the total amount claimed in expenses by Special Advisers in each of the past five years broken down by (a) travel, (b) hotel accommodation and (c) food & drink.
  3. What was the cost, mode of travel, class of travel and destination of the largest Special Adviser expense claim for transport in each of the last five years? 
  4. What was the cost and hotel used for each of the largest Special Adviser expense claims for hotel accommodation in each of the past five years?
  5. What was the cost and restaurant used for each the largest Special Adviser expense claims for food & drink in each of the past five years?


I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested. The information you have requested in Question 1, regarding the number of Special Advisers and their pay, is available from the links below. These links cover all of the past 5 years.

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

With regard to questions 2 to 5 the attached documents provide the information required. Please note that employees of the Scottish Government, including Special Advisers, are required to book their travel and accommodation through our contracted travel agent. This type of business expense is not paid for personally and reclaimed, but is paid for by the business area. We have therefore not considered contracted costs in our answer. We recognise however that when travelling on business, other kinds of expenses can be incurred, and these are considered in our answer.

Please also note that Special Advisers’ gifts, hospitality and expenses should have been published on our website. Unfortunately for administrative reasons , the final step of publication of the information had not occurred since 2019.

The information was collated and confirmed by Special Advisers during the period, and the delay in publication, has now being rectified and can be found here: Special advisers: gifts and hospitality - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

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.

FOI 202300373199 - Information Released - Annex A
FOI 202300373199 - Information Released - Annex B


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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