Humza Yousaf calls for review of civil servant spending

First minister asks Scottish Government perm sec to review whether right processes are in place for purchases on government bank cards
Source: Alamy

By CSW staff

09 Aug 2023

First Minister Humza Yousaf has called for a review of spending by civil servants after it emerged that nearly 60,000 transactions were made on government bank cards.

Figures published yesterday showed payments totalling £14.2m over a three-year period, including nearly £10,000 on VIP airport services for Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Yousaf said it was “fair to ask questions” about the spending, and said he would ask permanent secretary John-Paul Marks to review it.

Speaking at an Edinburgh Fringe event with comedian Matt Forde, Yousaf was quoted as saying: “It's fair to ask the questions that people are asking about. Was this item spent? Why was it spent? Why was it bought by the civil service?

“I will ask the permanent secretary to just review, 'do we have the right procedures in place when it comes to spend'.” 

Unusual purchases included yoga classes, nail polish and Edinburgh Festival tickets. Books and other publications were also bought, including six copies of Women Hold Up Half the Sky, a book of speeches by Sturgeon, a book on Marxism, 21 copies of How to Run a Government so that Citizens Benefit and Taxpayers Don’t Go Crazy, and a printed copy of the Scottish Government’s 2014 independence white paper.   

A summary of purchases over £500 is published on the Scottish Government website, but Scottish Labour obtained a full breakdown of spending spanning September 2019 to August 2022.   

In the summary it shows that £9,898 on airport services for Sturgeon in UK and European airports.   

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Spending through electronic purchasing cards is used to support government officials during their usual course of work such as on training, catering, room hire and one-off supplies.

“The cards are not for personal expenditure and there are robust authorisation and regular auditing arrangements in place to monitor their use.  

“For security reasons, we cannot comment on the first minister’s travel arrangements.” 

This article first appeared on CSW's sister publication Holyrood Magazine

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