THE cost of Scotland’s first Citizens Assembly worked out at more than £10,000 per opinion, it has emerged.

Its final report, published this morning, showed the Scottish Government agreed a budget of £1,366,000 for the controversial experiment in direct democracy.

Of this, £340,000 was spent directly on the 120 people (100 core participants and 20 spares) recruited from every part of the country as a representative cross-section of Scottish society.

This included travel and subsistence costs for four residential weekends, and a “gift of thanks” of £200 for taking part in each one.

The arrival of the Covid pandemic in early 2019 forced the Assembly online for its final four weekend sessions, but participants still received a £150 gift for each one “in recognition of the extended duration of the commitment and the preparation required”.

A further £217,600 was allocated to conference catering and accommodation.

The Assembly met initially in Edinburgh, with a “welcome reception” evening at Edinburgh Castle, then switched to a conference centre in Clydebank for its other residential weekends.

READ MORE: Scotland's first Citizens Assembly reports its findings on country's future

Announced by Nicola Sturgeon in April 2019, the Assembly was based on Irish model which that debated abortion and other divisive issues outside the normal political process.

It looked at the kind of country Scotlaand should be, overcoming challenges including Brexit, and giving people the information they need to make informed choices about the future. 

Its 260-page report contains 60 recommendations, including calls for Scotland to have more powers over tax, employment and immigration, and greater citizen participation in political decision making, both at Holyrood and local level.

The forum was controversial - Unionists claimed it was a Nationalist talking shop designed to advance a Yes vote - but in the end it offered no view on independence.

The report includes a breakdown of the £1.37m budget, but notes the Scottish Government has yet to publish the full and final cost of the Assembly, which will come “in due course”.

The biggest budget item was £519,000 for “procured contracts and services”, including finding participants, designing and facilitation, and “media, website and advertising”.

Another £150,000 went on “publications and engagement”, £84,400 on “office costs” and £55,000 of “advisory services”.