Scottish Executive HR chief Paul Pagliari has defended government travel expenditure – but admitted that the £9.5m first-class rail bill run up by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last year “looked big”.
The DWP admitted the huge sum earlier this month in a written response to a parliamentary question. It also spent £1.4m on business class flights, and £125,000 on newspapers and magazines.
Pagliari, director of change and corporate services at the devolved Scottish government, told Personnel Today: “Government departments need to be able to do their job. If spending is proportionate to that of private businesses, then I can understand it.”
However he added: “On face value, the [DWP] figures looked big. But when you compare them to private companies, are they really that different?”
Pagliari insisted that the Scottish Executive was frugal with travel expenses.
“Scots are well known for their caution with money,” he said. “At the Scottish Executive, we are careful with our spending on travel. For example, on the Glasgow to Edinburgh line, staff only go first class at peak times.”