THE SNP government has been accused of breaking strict purdah rules by announcing an extra £8m for Glasgow, the party’s top target in today's local election.

Despite a three-week ban on ministers unveiling new spending in case it influences voters, housing minister Kevin Stewart revealed the money on Tuesday.

He signed off a press release announcing £8.35m to support urban regeneration in Glasgow, where the SNP is trying to end Labour’s 38-year run in power.

The cash will help refurbish Dalmore House, a landmark building on St Vincent Street, and support 200 jobs in construction, training and apprenticeships.

Mr Stewart was quoted as saying: “Glasgow has a shortage of high quality office space and this latest investment will increase the city’s stock, making it an even more appealing proposition to locate and do business in.”

Official guidance issued in January says civil servants must take “particular care” over announcements in the pre-election “period of sensitivity” that could cast doubt in their neutrality.

It states: “It needs to be borne in mind that the activities of the Scottish Government could have a bearing on the local election campaigns.”

After raising the matter as a point of order at the close of First Minister’s Questions, Tory MSP Ross Thomson asked the Scottish Government’s top civil servant to investigate the matter.

He told Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans it was vital that public trust in the impartiality of the civil service was not undermined by the use of taxpayer cash in the election.

He said later: “This looks like a blatant attempt to sway voters in an area that is being targeted by the SNP.

"I have written to the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government asking for an explanation as to how this could be announced just 48 hours before voters go to the polls.

"People need to have absolute confidence that public money is not being used for party political ends."

LibDem MSP Mike Rumbles added: “Allegations that the Scottish Government has breached the rules on the use of public resources at election time are extremely serious.

“There are rules in place for a reason. The public must be given the strongest possible reassurances that this cash has not been splashed for ballots in an SNP target area.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “A letter has been received by the Permanent Secretary and a response will issue in due course.”