SNP ready £6m of taxpayers’ cash for overseas offices including £2m in Brussels to woo EU

Scotland: EU 'would consider them to join' says MEP

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The Overseas offices, some of which are based in UK embassies, aim to boost Scottish interests across the world and boost engagement with states and organisations. In a Scottish Government Freedom of Information request and budget data, Ministers have allocated £5.94 million on the running of seven offices in the 2021-22 financial year.

However, the Scottish Government will spend the majority of its funding on the running of its Brussels office, where officials regularly liaise with EU bodies including the Commission.

£2.31 million has been allocated for Scotland House Brussels which has 17 employees.

The Scottish Government has also allocated funding for the running of its other offices in Beijing, Paris, Dublin, Berlin and Ottawa which are also branded as Scotland House.

After Brussels, the second-highest allocation is £805,000 for Washington DC in the United States and £596,000 for Dublin in Ireland.

But Holyrood opposition parties accused SNP led Government ministers of wasting taxpayers cash claiming the overseas offices are not value for money.

Stephen Kerr MSP, Scottish Conservative Chief Whip, said: “The SNP Government don’t seem to be getting value for money for these overseas offices.

“Despite spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money running these projects, there is precious little to show for them.

“It’s looking likely these trade offices are wasting more cash than they’re creating for Scottish businesses.”

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Sarah Boyack MSP, Scottish Labour spokesperson for External Affairs, said “It is important for Scotland to have good links with the rest of the world but given the pressures of the pandemic, I would question whether this is the best or most strategic use of resources.

“No one doubts that Scotland can be a force for good in the world but given our international development commitments to countries like Malawi, could this cash have been better spent helping secure access to vaccines and playing our part in the global recovery from the pandemic?”

Mr Kerr has previously complained in a letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab about the Ministers decision to open offices.

In the letter, he requested that the UK Government remind First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “of the missions and embassies provided by the UK Government.”

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In the letter to Mr Rabb, the Central Scotland MSP said: “With the Scottish taxpayer in mind, I would greatly appreciate it if you could contact the First Minister to remind her of the missions and embassies provided by the UK Government.”

In response, a Scottish Government source said the offices aimed to “promote Scottish trade and to attract investment to create new jobs.”

They added: “We are trying to secure our nation’s place on the world stage and the Tories are simply trying to undermine that.”

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