Questions have been raised over whether Scottish Tory ministers are "partying on the public purse" after new figures revealed that Scotland Office hospitality spending has skyrocketed.
Responding to a parliamentary question from SNP MP Deidre Brock, Scottish Secretary David Mundell was forced to admit that Scotland Office spending on hospitality has risen sharply from £8,987.00 in 2015-16, to £61,641.73 in 2016-17 – a near seven-fold increase at the taxpayer's expense.
The lavish increase in the Scotland Office party budget comes at the same time that the Tory government has cut Scotland's budget – with the discretionary block grant falling by £2.6billion in real terms between 2010-11 and 2019-10, and a real terms cut of over £500million in the block grant for day-to-day spending over the next two years alone.
Commenting Deidre Brock MP said:
"David Mundell must explain why there has been such a huge increase in Scotland Office spending on hospitality, and whether Scottish Tory ministers really are busy partying on the public purse.
"People across Scotland who have suffered as a result of Tory austerity cuts will find this lavish expenditure utterly astonishing given the UK government is also cutting Scotland's budget – with a £2.6billion real terms cut to the block grant Scotland needs to fund the NHS, schools, policing and other public services.
"With devolution the Scotland Office has become a redundant zombie department, yet the Scottish Secretary has the taxpayer's credit card out again, and is splashing our hard-earned cash on posh canapes, fizzy wine, and entertainment – at a time when Tory cuts are forcing many families to rely on foodbanks and emergency aid just to feed their children.
"Of course some government events can represent value for money, but David Mundell's spending on posh parties is clearly getting out of control and it is Scotland's taxpayers that are having to pick up the bill."
Unlike SNP MPs, Scottish Tory MPs backed the cuts to Scotland's budget announced in the UK Budget in November. Between 2010-11 and 2019-10 Scotland's discretionary block grant will fall by £2.6billion in real terms, including a real terms cut of over £500million in the block grant for day-to-day spending over the next two years alone: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/scottish-budget-draft-budget-2018-19/
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