New figures have revealed that the Scottish Government’s wage bill for the Civil Service has increased by more than £600m in seven years.  

The figures – revealed by the Taxpayer’s Alliance – show that staff salaries within all forms of government and quangos in Scotland has risen by over 60% from an estimated £1.010bn in 2016 to £1.623bn in 2023. 

But what does the Scottish Civil Service do, and why are costs so high?  

What is the Scottish Civil Service? 

The civil service helps the government of the day develop and implement its policies and deliver public services.  

The Permanent Secretary is the most senior civil servant in Scotland, in charge of thousands of staff within the core Scottish Government. The holder of the post also has oversight of around 125 agencies. 

READ MORE: Cost of Scotland's growing army of civil servants soars by £600m

In practice, the government is broken down into a number of directorates. These range from lodestone departments such as Justice, Agriculture and the NHS, to less high-profile offices such as Parliamentary Counsel Office and the Strategy Directorate.  

What are the costs? 

In the past year, the wage bill for the civil service has risen by over £23m. 

Staffing within the Scottish Government, excluding agencies such as Scottish Enterprise and Transport Scotland, has increased by over 70% from 5380 to 9175. 

The number of Scots civil servants across governments has risen by 2475 (4.85%).  

The Herald:

Why are numbers rising?  

Two main factors have sparked the rise in staff and costs: Brexit, and the Covid pandemic. Both required more manpower as the role of the state expanded and functions previously fulfilled by the EU were devolved back to the UK, with knock-on effects for Scotland.  

The Scottish Government has also been given increasing powers in recent years – such as tax-raising and some benefits - and has had to expand its offices to suit.   

What has the Scottish Government said? 

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government continually monitors the cost of its operations through effective vacancy management and recruitment controls. Pay and workforce issues will continue to be linked to both the delivery of the Government’s agenda, fiscal sustainability and reform to secure the delivery of effective public services over the medium term. 

READ MORE: Cost of Scotland's growing army of civil servants soars by £600m

“Historically, the growth in Scottish Government workforce numbers reflects factors including the addition of new powers and the need to address external challenges such as EU exit, Covid pandemic and Ukraine response. 

“Our approach to public sector pay is fair and progressive with specific controls for higher earners, to help ensure that public sector pay remains affordable and delivers value for money.”