Public money spent on the cases for and against a second independence referendum: FOI release

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

Information requested

Since the 2019 General Election:

  1. How much public money has the Scottish Government spent promoting IndyRef 2?
  2. How much public money has the UK Government spent countering the case for IndyRef 2?


1. We have interpreted your request as covering money spent by the Scottish Government since Thursday 12 December 2019 on work related to an Independence Referendum, and on the prospectus series of papers.

On 22 March 2021, the Scottish Government published a draft Independence Referendum Bill. This fulfilled a commitment made in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government for 2021. The total costs associated with this publication were £258.22.

The Scottish Government has previously published details of the publication costs of ‘Independence in the Modern World’ and ‘Renewing Democracy Through Independence’ from the Building a New Scotland series and they can be found at the links below:

Written question and answer: S6W-11001 | Scottish Parliament Website
Written question and answer: S6W-11002 | Scottish Parliament Website

An exemption under section 27(1) (information intended for future publication) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested because the Scottish Government intends to publish the  information on publication costs of ‘A Stronger Economy with Independence’ within 12 weeks of the date of your request. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release some of this information before the planned publication date.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in the costs associated with the prospectus papers, and this will be met by the planned publication. In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned.

Also, we see no public interest in disrupting the programme of work to produce the Building a New Scotland prospectus series to release the information ahead of the intended publication date.

I am unable to provide you with a figure for staff costs for work conducted by Scottish Government civil servants in connection with an independence referendum or the prospectus papers. This is because in line with usual practice, details of individual tasks carried out by civil servants, including the number of hours spent on them, are not routinely 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 some of the information you have requested.

Some of the information you have requested is available from the Scottish Government website. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. However, in the interests of being helpful, we have provided links to the relevant material below:

Independence referendum Supreme Court referral: legal costs - 

As set out in our response to PQ S6W-09691 (available at S6W-09691 | Scottish Parliament Website), the Scottish Government intends to proactively publish information about the costs of the litigation. Accordingly, an exemption under Section 27 (information intended for future publication) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption allows public authorities to refuse to disclose information if they already plan to publish it within the next 12 weeks. The reasons why this exemption applies are set out in Annex B.

2. Regarding UK Government spending, 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. This is because the UK Government and Scottish Government are separate organisations. You can submit an FOI request to the UK Government to ask if they hold this information.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI - 202200331337 - Annex B


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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