Downing Street has spent over £ 2.6m on renovations to hold White House-style press briefings, prompting a call for Boris Johnson to “hang his head in shame” given the pay increase 1% recommended for NHS staff.
The cost of renovations for televised question-and-answer sessions with journalists at 9 Downing Street will add to the pressure the prime minister faces over financing a separate renovation of his official residence.
Labor questioned his priorities to shell out millions on “vanity projects” while “stealing the pockets” of NHS workers.
Extensive overhaul began at 9 Downing Street last year when the government announced plans for televised briefings.
They will be led by Allegra Stratton, a former journalist who has also been Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s chief of strategic communications and is credited with carefully crafting his image. As a politically appointed adviser rather than an impartial official, she is expected to be able to target opponents and defend government actions.
The launch of the briefings has been indefinitely delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
It was revealed on Friday that renewal costs amounted to £ 2,607,767, largely excluding VAT, following a Freedom of Information request from the Press Association.
The Cabinet Office said the amount “reflects” that number 9 is a Grade I listed building.
“This will necessarily require specific capital works, which include audiovisual equipment, Internet infrastructure, electrical works and lighting,” said his response.
“This spending is in the public interest, as the new broadcast of lobbying briefings will increase public accountability and transparency about the work of this government now and in the future.”
Breakdown of costs:
£ 1,848,695.12 for “major works”
£ 198,023.75 in “long-term items”
£ 33,394.63 in “broadband equipment”
Opposition MPs took advantage of the figure to criticize the government’s recommendation for a 1% wage increase for NHS workers despite unprecedented pressure during the coronavirus pandemic.
As nurses considered industrial action, Labor Deputy Director Angela Rayner said: “It would take about 100 years for a newly qualified nurse to receive this amount of money.
“It summarizes Boris Johnson’s warped priorities that he can find millions for vanity projects, while stealing the pockets of NHS workers.”
Lib Dem Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper said: “This is nothing more than an expensive vanity project and is just one more evidence that this administration’s priority is turnaround, not substance.
“The Prime Minister himself said he ‘owed his life’ to Covid doctors and nurses, but is now glad to see front-line nurses take a pay cut in real terms, as he gets a striking new TV study. : The prime minister should bow his head in shame. “
The revelation came as Johnson faced pressure to remodel his official flat above No. 11 overseen by his fiancée, Carrie Symonds.
With costs reported to be rising, Downing Street declined to deny that Johnson is considering setting up a charity to pay for construction on the flat.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism