Tory ministers consider ‘branding’ UK Government services in Scotland with the union flag

Tax letters, passport offices and job centres face being branded with the union flag or the words 'UK Government' under plans being considered by Conservative ministers.

Ministers want to beef up the UK Government's branding north of the Border in a bid to head off a second Scottish independence referendum.

Tory ministers are concerned that too few Scots know what specific services the UK Government provides.

The problem is predicted to worsen with the transfer of widescale tax and welfare powers to Holyrood.

A UK government source said that “lots” of options were being considered.

“We want to make sure that ordinary people in Scotland know that they have two governments working hard on their behalf,” he said.

A small number of plaques featuring the union flag and the slogan "funded by the UK Government" have already been attached to infrastructure projects across the UK.

The controversial move was the brainchild of former Lib Dem Treasury minister Danny Alexander.

Foreign aid is now also branded with a flag and the words: "From the British people”.

Sources denied a move to beef up the UK Government’s brand in Scotland was a response to the SNP’s planned summer push for independence.

“This is about defining the peace," one said, "But it is a long-term project, a four-year project, if not longer than that”.

A report by the House of Lords Constitution Committee earlier this year recommended that UK Government services should be branded a bid to to distinguish them from Scottish and local government services.

Peers said that the division of responsibilities between the Scottish and UK Governments can be “hard for members of the public to disentangle”.

They also called for the controversial letter sent to every taxpayer since 2014, setting out their annual tax summary, details which services are funded by which government.

In her evidence to peers before they published their report former Scots Tory leader Baroness Goldie said: "Whether it is in an emblematic Union Jack, a logo on letterheads or whatever it may be, I do not know, but something needs to give a visible connection to the provision of service."

There are more civil servants in Scotland and Wales working for the UK Government than for the devolved governments.

Some Whitehall departments, such as the Department for International Development, have hundreds of civil servants working in Scotland.

But ministers and officials fear members of the public do not understand that job centres and local passport and tax offices are not run by the Scottish Government.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson will spearhead her party’s reaction to the SNP's independence drive the summer.

A party source described the move as a “gift” that would allow Ms Davidson to keep hammering home the arguments she made in the run up to May’s Scottish elections.

The Tories pulled off a coup, beating Labour into third and officially becoming the main Opposition party at Holyrood. is the online edition of Scotland's favourite newspapers, that brings you your Daily news. Every day we bring you the best in Scottish news, sport, entertainment and opinion, including breaking news, picture galleries, videos and live blogs.

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