Scottish social security agency criticised over staff travel spending

Tens of thousands of pounds has been spent in just six months by Scotland’s new social security agency to pay for staff travel, according to official figures.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Scottish Conservatives shows that between September 1 last year and February 28 2019, a total of £72,650 was spent by Social Security Scotland to cover travel costs.

It includes a spend of £45,508 on rail travel, £13,833 on hired or leased vehicles, and a sum of £5,141 on air travel.

Additionally, £5,001 was spent under a category including motor mileage, with £2,194 filed under miscellaneous travel and £973 spent on travel by taxi.

Scottish Conservative MSP Michelle Ballantyne described the spend as “extraordinary”.

Ms Ballantyne said: “This is an extraordinary large amount to spend on travel in such a short period of time.

“Social Security Scotland hasn’t even started administering any benefits yet they are spending tens of thousands of pounds on staff transport.

“With the SNP admitting that they won’t even have the capability to handle social security payments until 2024, you have to question why this amount is so high.

“It’s already embarrassing enough for the SNP that they have had to ask the DWP to continue delivering these powers on their behalf for another five years.

“Now the organisation they set up for social security payments is racking up a huge bill despite not having even begun to carry out their main function.”

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