UK Politics

Special advisers to ministers: Salary bill up £1m

10 Downing St door
Image caption The highest-paid special advisers work in Number 10

The salary bill for ministers' special advisers has risen by £1m in the last year, according to official figures.

So-called "Spads" are appointed by ministers to provide political advice over and above the impartial work carried out by civil servants.

The Cabinet Office put the increase down to the "unusual" pressures caused by coalition government.

But Labour said David Cameron's pre-election promise to limit the number of special advisers was in "tatters".

A leap from 85 to 98 in the number of special advisers - who work directly to ministers and often speak for them - contributed to a 16% rise in the total wage bill in 2012-13.

'Out of touch'

According to the Cabinet Office, the total salary bill was £7.2m last year, up from £6.2m in 2011-12 and more than the £6.8m the previous government spent in its final year.

Special advisers played "an important role... advising ministers and contributing to the smooth running of government", a spokesman said.

"This is particularly important in a coalition and the number of special advisers reflects the unusual circumstances of this government - the first coalition government for more than 60 years."

He added that special advisers represented 2.2% of the senior civil service.

Labour accused the government of double standards and said it came against cuts across the rest of the country.

And Labour MP Phil Wilson accused the prime minister of breaking his 2010 manifesto pledge to "put a limit on the number of special advisers".

"While he tells the rest of the country to accept cuts, he's happy to spend more and more on his own spin doctors. It's more evidence of how out of touch he is that he thinks the rules don't apply to him," he added.

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