Scots prison staff cost soars by £13m in a year
STAFF costs within the Scottish Prison Service have risen by £13 million in a year, amid claims consultants that are being paid to do the work of existing employees.
Figures from the SPS’s annual accounts show the amount spent on staff rose from £150m to £163m during the past financial year.
Sources claim consultants are being paid £5,000 to £11,000 a month to do the job of existing staff.
The SPS, which is expected to release an internal audit of recruitment this month, said rising costs were because of a one-off payment of £2,000 made to prison officers and other staff – which cost the Scottish Government agency £6.5m – and other recruitment.
But a source said money was being spent on expensive consultants being brought in from outside the SPS.
“Staff costs have risen by £13m,” the source said. “There are a number of consultants employed in corporate services that are being paid between £5,000 and £11,000 per month to do the job of existing staff.
“Existing staff may be incompetent, but nothing is being done to address this. Taxpayers’ money is paying for all these extra staff.”
A total of 97 per cent of the SPS’s income and funding is from the Scottish Government. According to an Audit Scotland report, the SPS received £328.7m in 2014/15 – up 4 per cent on the previous year.
Auditors said the increased staff costs were due to the one-off payment and “additional staff employed”.
Last month the Scottish Government was accused of wasting money on a new women’s prison before cancelling the project.
Using Freedom of Information legislation, the Scottish Conservatives discovered that more than £4m had been spent on renovations at Cornton Vale, which is earmarked for closure.
The party said a further £7m had been wasted in Inverclyde on a site earmarked for a new prison – a project which was cancelled shortly after justice secretary Michael Matheson took up his post late last year.
Commenting on its staff costs, a spokeswoman for SPS said around 100 extra staff had been taken on by the organisation.
She added: “The figure includes the one-off payment of £6.5m and the rest of the increase is due to additional staff employed.”
Asked about the claim that outside consultants were being paid, she added: “We do employ a number of people that are temporary employees or are on temporary contracts in specialist roles such as IT and project management.”