Cost of a Coalition? We need MORE spin doctors says Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude
Cost of so-called 'spads' - which also include other political appointees - has rocketed by £1m in a year
Wednesday 30 October 2013
More taxpayers' money needs to be spent on ministers' special advisers because the current Government is a coalition, Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has said.
Mr Maude pointed out that although the cost of the so-called "spads" - which include spin doctors and other political appointees - has rocketed by £1 million in a year, the demands of coalition Government increase the requirement for them.
He stressed that the £7.2 million cost of the 98 spads that now advise Government makes up only 2 per cent of the entire senior civil service budget.
During Cabinet Office questions in the Commons, Mr Maude said: "The requirement of a coalition Government means that there is more requirement for special advisers.
"The cost of special advisers is still only 2 per cent of the cost of the senior civil service."
He had been asked by Labour's Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) whether the increase in spending on spads was justifiable at a time of Government cuts.
Turning to Mr Maude, he said: "Last Friday afternoon the Cabinet Office snuck out details about special advisers which showed that both the number and the cost of special advisers has risen by over £1 million in the last year.
"Is it right that at a time when the Government is demanding that cuts be applied and saying that they are necessary, that such profligate spending by the Cabinet Office is allowed to go uncontrolled?"
Shadow home affairs minister Diana Johnson pointed out a pledge in the Coalition Agreement to reduce the number of spads - which were up from 85 to 98 in the last year.
She asked: "The Coalition Agreement pledged to limit the number of spads. With them increasing to 97 (actually 98), what is the actual limit that the Government want for spads?"
Mr Maude replied: "There is a limit on the number of spads and we announced what the number was last week but it will be subject to change from time to time."
The coalition is now spending more on special advisers than the £6.8 million paid out in the last year of the Labour government under Gordon Brown.
The latest figures - slipped out late on Friday afternoon - show that seven advisers were paid salaries of £100,000 or more.
The two top earners were David Cameron's long-serving chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, and his communications chief Craig Oliver, who each receive £140,000 - just below the permitted maximum of £142,668.
Christopher Lockwood, who earlier this year joined the No 10 policy unit from The Economist magazine, is next in line with a salary of £134,000. The former journalist is reported to be a close friend of the Prime Minister, who once went on holiday with him to Italy.
Mr Cameron's deputy chief of staff Oliver Dowden gets £125,000, his new press secretary Graeme Wilson is on £110,000, and his "gatekeeper" Kate Fall is on £100,000.
In Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's office, the Liberal Democrats' strategy director Ryan Coetzee - who was recruited from the South African Democrats - gets £110,000.
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