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Downing Street spends millions on new media briefing room

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·2-min read
Police stand guard outside 10 Downing street in central London on March 3, 2021. - Britain is expected to keep vast emergency financial support propping up the UK's virus-battered economy when unveiling its annual budget today, but could also raise tax to fight surging debt. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
It plans to start televised daily press conferences, similar to those held at the White House. The briefings were expected to begin in the autumn, but have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Downing Street has splashed out more than £2.6m ($3.6m) on a new media briefing room, it has been revealed.

The Cabinet Office told the BBC that spending on the broadcast room was “in the public interest” and will “increase public accountability and transparency”.

It plans to start televised daily press conferences, similar to those held at the White House. The briefings were expected to begin in the autumn, but have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime minister’s press secretary Allegra Stratton will front the Downing Street briefings.

The news comes as a response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by the PA Media news agency. It detailed spending of over £1.8m for the "main works", nearly £200,000 for long lead items, and more than £33,000 for broadband equipment.

"This will necessarily require one-off capital works, including audio-visual equipment, internet infrastructure, electrical works and lighting," a spokesperson told the broadcaster.

They added that "spending on maintenance and technical facilities reflects that 9 Downing Street is a Grade I listed building."

However, the Labour party lashed out at the plans, saying it reflected “Boris Johnson’s warped priorities.”

READ MORE: Boris Johnson tells farmers UK 'won't compromise' on high food standards

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labour party, compared the spending on the meeting room to the government's proposed 1% pay rise for NHS nurses.

She said: “It would take around 100 years for a newly qualified nurse to get paid this kind of money.

"It sums up Boris Johnson's warped priorities that he can find millions for vanity projects, while picking the pockets of NHS workers.

“Our NHS heroes deserve a fair pay rise after all they have done for us."

In addition to this, discussions have also taken place within Downing Street about the cost of renovating Boris Johnson's official flat, where he lives with fiancee Carrie Symonds.

BBC sources have said that setting up a charity to allow members of the public to donate towards the revamp has been considered to cover the cost. This however, is yet to be confirmed.

In 2011, then-prime minister David Cameron spent £30,000 of taxpayers' money to refurbish his official flat. The amount was the maximum annual public grant available to prime ministers for the upkeep of their accommodation.

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