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Finance Secretary’s public speaking course cost taxpayer almost £1,000

UK News | Published:

A freedom of information request found in-house communication skills training has been given to 11 other ministers in 2018-19.

Almost £1,000 was spent by the Scottish Government to pay for a public speaking course for Derek Mackay, a freedom of information request has uncovered.

Voicebusiness, an organisation offering communication skills training, was paid a total of £972.12, it reveals.

On its website, the firm claims it can help “turn nervous wrecks into skilled presenters, polished public speakers”.

As well as Mr Mackay, 11 other Scottish Government ministers received either media introductory training or refresher media training during 2018-19.

They were Maree Todd, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Mairi Gougeon, Ivan McKee, Ash Denholm, Clare Haughey, Kate Forbes, Ben Macpherson, Joe FitzPatrick, Graeme Dey and Christina McKelvie.

Only Mr Mackay’s cost the taxpayer as the training for the 11 ministers was provided by the Scottish Government’s communications department.

The figures show spending on courses over the last five years, with a total of £6,240 paid to Pink Elephant Communications over 2014-15 for media training for four Scottish ministers.

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A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “In common with senior positions in other large organisations a range of training is made available to ministers, including courses in media and public speaking skills.

“This training has an important role in supporting Ministers in their delivery of official government business. These courses are delivered in-house where possible.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “Derek MacKay may have felt he needed to spend public money to change his oratorical style from Dalek to Demosthenes but it’s not speaking lessons he needed – it’s a course in how not to fleece hard-working people in Scotland.

“This money from the taxpayer may have helped him deliver the budget more eloquently but its contents remain deeply troubling and will have a real impact on family finances right across Scotland.”

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