The Conservative government is spending record sums on special advisers – having hired more than any other administration in British history, according to Labour.
Sir Keir Starmer’s party attacked the “jobs-for-mates government”, citing figures showing that taxpayers’ annual bill for ministers’ special advisers has risen to £12.7m.
There are currently 124 special advisers, more commonly known as “spads”, working across Boris Johnson’s government – up from 113 the year before.
The bill for the spads, who work with ministers on policy and press, also jumped up in the last year from £11.9m to £12.7m, according to government figures.
Labour analysis showed this government has employed more spads than under any other PM in history, with the political appointees getting an average of over £100,000 in salary and benefits.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner said the “ballooning” size of the group of top aides reveals an “inefficient, jobs-for-mates government – with no plans to tackle the cost of living crisis despite the huge resource to do it”.
Ms Rayner said: “The government has more advisers than ever, but no plan to tackle the cost of living crisis or the huge backlogs clogging up access to services for everyone.”
She added: “The saying goes that many hands make light work but not in Boris Johnson’s government. If anything, the more advisers he hired the worse his government got.”
There were only 72 spads employed by government in 2010-11, the year the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition took over from Labour.
Ms Rayner claimed a Labour government under Sir Keir “would treat taxpayers’ money with care and respect”, having vowed to set up a “value for money” office in Whitehall.
It comes as Jacob Rees-Mogg, minister for efficiency, admitted government services were “not delivering” and launched a fresh attack on civil servants – saying too many had become “French” in their attitudes to work.
Claiming poor excuses such as the hot weather were being used to continue to work from home after the Covid pandemic, he told GB News: “Nobody can do any work when it’s hot, apparently.”
He added: “And now what’s the excuse now? Oh, no, it’s August, so no one can possibly. We’re becoming French. We need to see people get back in the office.”
The cabinet minister admitted that there were problems at the Passport Office, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Probate Office. “These services are not delivering what the British public have a right to demand,” he said.
The minister also suggested the government was continuing to spend too much on office space. Having accused civil service chiefs of “not taking efficiency seriously enough”, Mr Rees-Mogg was shocked by a visit to a government office in Canary Wharf this week.
“They have 400 desks on one floor and I’d be surprised if there were 40 people working there,” he said. “And people said, ‘Well, people are on leave’. Well, they can’t all be on leave. It’s just not good enough.”