SPENDING on the Scotland Office has soared by nearly 85% in the past eight years, it has been revealed.

New figures published by the SNP show expenditure on the department totalled around £9.1 million in 2020-21 — compared to £4.9m in 2013-14.

During that time, spending on ­communications staff has tripled from around £240,000 to £906,000.

The advertising budget more than doubled in one year, from £36,704 in 2019/20 to £75,681 in 2020/21. In 2015/16 it was just £371.

Overall, the total number of staff has risen by 207% – from 58 in 2011/12 to 86 in 2020/21

The National:

SNP shadow Scottish secretary Mhairi Black MP (above) said the ­Scotland Office is being used as a “Tory ­propaganda unit”.

She said: “People in Scotland will be horrified at the fact that the government has spent another year spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on a zombie department that has consistently failed to stand up for Scotland in the face of an extreme Brexit and Tory power grab.

“And all of this whilst people are ­relying on food banks and ­struggling to get by after a decade of Tory ­austerity, Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit and the pandemic.

“The Scotland Office has become utterly redundant since devolution and now nothing more than a Tory propaganda unit – and not a very good one, given support for independence is on the rise. 

“It shows how out of touch Boris Johnson and his government are with the people of Scotland that they think we want to see even more of our ­taxes wasted on hiring spin doctors to ­lecture us about the so-called benefits of Westminster.”

The appointment of a Conservative donor to a junior minister role in the Scotland Office last year caused an outcry.

Malcolm Offord (below), who unsuccessfully stood for the Scottish Parliament in May, received a peerage to enable him to take the UK Government role.

The National: Malcolm Offord

He replaced Scottish Tory MP ­David Dugui, who lost his job in the Scotland Office during the Prime Minister’s reshuffle in September.

In 2019, MPs on the Scottish ­Affairs Committee had called for the role of the Scotland Office and the role of the Scottish Secretary to be ­reviewed, with suggestions it could be replaced with a department for constitutional affairs.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State for ­Scotland and his team play a vital role in promoting the best interests of Scotland within a strong United Kingdom and effectively representing Scottish interests at the heart of the UK Government.

“This is a now annual petty and baseless attack, and hugely ­disappointing at a time when public information has never been more ­important.

“The communications team has been working flat out, and working closely with Scottish Government ­colleagues, to ensure the people of Scotland have the information they need to stay safe and deal with ­Covid-19.”

A Scotland Office source ­added: “It’s great to see the SNP’s ‘zombie department’ press release still going strong after all these years.

“It’s become a much-loved Hogmanay institution and now we no longer have Only An Excuse to look forward to, it provides the best chuckle in the run-up to the Bells.”