Public monies spent on promoting Scottish Independence: FOI release

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

Information requested

Please could I request the following answer to two questions under the freedom of information legislation.

For each of the following years 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020 up to the present:

  • Details of the total costs for advertising (radio, TV, flyers, emails, texts), including the cost of stationery and the cost of staff used to process and handle it, cost of storage, cost of distribution of same and the cost of salaries for the civil servants working on the preparation and promulgation of a paper to update/renew the Scottish Government’s paper ‘Scotland’s Future’ and any other independence-centric legislation or advice the same or similar to this either explicitly or implicitly?
  • Please advise me what the precise legislation is contained within the Scotland Act 2012 or any other relevant legislation (again the factor must be precise) that says a devolved administration can actively pursue a course of attempted cessation from the United Kingdom? In addition to this, please state (legislation specific within the Scotland Act et al) how they are allowed to do this at the British Government’s and UK public's (tax payers’) expense?


No advertising or paid promotion has been carried out in connection with the Scottish Government’s work relating to the independence prospectus or an independence referendum and therefore, no costs have been incurred for stationery, staffing, storage or distribution in connection with 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. 

Turning to your query about salaries. It may first of all be helpful if I explain that the work on legislation for an independence referendum and the preparation of the independence prospectus, as set out in the commitments in the 2021/22 Programme for Government, has been co-ordinated by the Scottish Government’s Referendums Scotland Bill Team and Constitutional Futures Division respectively. This work however, has also drawn upon officials from a range of other portfolios across the organisation who have contributed to various extents as part of their normal duties supporting the Scottish Government. It is not possible to provide an exact number of the staff involved in this work because 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. The Scottish Government has recently published details of the number of staff and their grades in both the Referendums Scotland Bill Team and Constitutional Futures Division and this can be found at: 

Referendums Scotland Bill Team staffing details: FOI release - ( Staff on Independence Prospectus: FOI release - ( 

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. This is because it is personal data of a third party, specifically the salaries of individuals, 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 do disclose salary details of senior civil servants, the salary band for the post in Constitutional Futures Division is below. 

  • Deputy Director – Constitutional Futures: £77,340 - £83,233 

The Scottish Government has previously published details of some of the associated costs regarding work on independence and this can be found on the publications section of the Scottish Government’s website: 

Independence spending 2014 – June 2022: FOI release - ( 

Along with this, the Scottish Government has also recently published the following information on publication costs from the Building a New Scotland prospectus series: 

Written question and answer: S6W-11001 | Scottish Parliament Website Written question and answer: S6W-11002 | Scottish Parliament Website Written question and answer: S6W-13303 | Scottish Parliament Website 

As you may be aware, the Lord Advocate recently referred to the Supreme Court the question of whether legislation providing for an independence referendum would relate to a reserved matter in terms of the Scotland Act 1998. Details of the associated costs of this can be found at: 

Independence referendum: Supreme Court referral costs - ( 

It continues to be appropriate for the Civil Service to support Ministers in the delivery of their policy priorities. As noted below, it is the constitutional role of the Civil Service to support the elected government of the day in developing and implementing its policies. That is the case for work on constitutional reform as it is for the rest of the government’s work. 

Part 1 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 provides the statutory basis for management of the Civil Service. Section 5 of the Act requires a Civil Service Code to be published, and section 7 requires that code to provide that civil servants must carry out their duties for the assistance of the Scottish Government “as it is duly constituted for the time being, whatever its political complexion.” Section 51 of the Scotland Act 1998 provides for the staffing by the civil service of the Scottish Administration. 


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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