THE annual cost of ministerial offices has almost doubled under the SNP, Scottish Labour has said.

Excluding the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, the yearly cost of ministerial salaries, office staff and advisers has risen from around £2.4 million in the SNP’s first government in 2007 to more than £4.5m in 2021, the party said.

Overall, the extra costs total more than £10m over the course of the parliamentary term.

The number of cabinet secretaries has doubled from four to eight in this time, Labour said, while the number of ministers has increased from 10 to 17.

The number of special advisers has risen from nine to 17.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said there is "no justifying these astounding increases".

He said: "For years the SNP have inflicted savage austerity on councils while sparing no expense funding their own bloated operation.

“These eye-watering increases might not sting so much if we could see what we were getting in return.

“Instead taxpayers are coughing up record amounts of money for a government delivering record levels of failure.

“No amount of money can buy the SNP a vision for Scotland.”

But a spokeswoman for Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Labour’s so-called analysis completely overlooks the fact that the responsibilities of the Scottish Government have increased substantially since 2007.

"Every new power devolved has been used to make Scotland a fairer country – whether that it is the more progressive income tax policy or the new social security system.

"The government is also continuing to deal with the unprecedented challenges of Brexit and the global pandemic.

“Since 2007, the SNP Government has transformed education, strengthened our NHS, introduced Scotland’s Baby Box and delivered over 100,000 affordable homes.

"While Labour snipe from the sidelines, the SNP Scottish Government is getting on with the day job - delivering progress and pursuing a progressive, transformative vision for the people of Scotland.”