Government defends increase in spend on PRs and special advisers

The Cabinet Office has dismissed opposition party criticism over the rising cost of ministers' special advisers, claiming that their "average salary is 8% lower than under the previous Government".

According to figures published yesterday there has been a rise of £1m in the past year spent on special advisers, totalling £8.4m in 2013/14.

There are now 103 ‘spads’ employed to give advice, up from 98 last year. This includes 26 working for David Cameron and 20 working for Nick Clegg.

The data, which reveals each special adviser’s pay band and actual salary above £58,200, shows that six advisers are being paid £100,000 or more, with the list topped by David Cameron's chief-of-staff Ed Llewellyn and his director of communications, Craig Oliver, who each received £140,000.

Clegg's director of communications, Steve Lotinga, earned £105,000.

In a statement a Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "As part of this Government's long term economic plan we are making efficiencies from the civil service which is now 21% smaller than it was at the time of the 2010 general election. Workforce reductions and pension reforms saved £4.7 billion last year, compared to a 2009/10 baseline. Special advisers perform an important function and their average salary cost is 8% lower now than under the previous Government."

The government added that "the increase in numbers reflects coalition working and the 24/7 demands placed on ministers". They also described them as a "central part of ministerial office teams".

Labour and UKIP have criticised the rising costs, with UKIP economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn quoted on the BBC saying: "What we really need are more real doctors and less government spin doctors."

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