Ask Full Fact: Who is paying for the Scottish referendum?

17 September 2014

Via email: "The Scottish referendum has costs - who's paying?"

Holding the independence referendum is a current Scottish government policy (with the power to do so temporarily granted to it by the UK government) so the Scottish government will foot the bill.

According to an impact assessment report signed-off by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in March 2013, the estimated cost of holding the referendum was predicted to be £13.3 million.

This includes the cost of actually running the referendum, ultimately paid by the Scottish Ministers, which was estimated at £8.6 million. The Chief Counting Officer, local counting officers and electoral registration officers incur these costs during their role in running the referendum, which are then reimbursed by the Scottish Government.

The further £4.7 million includes the costs of a free mailshot to everyone in Scotland for each of the main campaign organisations, which the mail service provider can recover from the Scottish Government.

It also includes costs associated with the Electoral Commission's role. This is funded by the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, with some of the initial costs reimbursed by the Scottish Government.

In reality, as these costs are estimates they may be different from the amount ultimately spent on the referendum. The Scottish Government's initial consultation in January 2012 said the total cost was 'likely to be around £10 million'.

In terms of campaign costs, the official Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns each have a £1.5 million spending limit. Anyone else campaigning may incur costs which are also regulated by the Electoral Commission.

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