Scottish public sector fat cats face pay freeze

The SNP Government will enforce pay freezes for top public sector managers and civil servants. A pay freeze is critical to Lib Dem support for the budget.

Ministers in Scotland have confirmed that they will enforce pay freezes for top public sector managers and civil servants in order to keep public spending under control as the financial squeeze begins.

Commenting on the move, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said:

“Scottish ministers have already taken a pay freeze, which will also apply to senior civil servants. The Scottish Government has agreed to extend that approach to the highest-paid people across the public sector whose pay arrangements come under our control.”

The news came just days after the Liberal Democrats called for a pay freeze as a condition for support of the Budget. Since the SNP govern as a minority administration, Lib Dem support will be crucial to see their spending plans passed.

The developments came as news emerged that half of all quango bosses in Scotland have failed to commit to forgoing their bonuses for next year, despite calls for them to do so by Finance Secretary, John Swinney last year.

Among some of the most controversial bonuses are:

Richard Ackroyd, Chief Executive of Scottish Water who could earn a target-related £105,200 bonus on top of his £263,000 salary.

Dr Campbell Gemmell, Chief Executive of the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, earns £110,000 and last year got a £12,000 bonus for the previous 24 months. The agency’s chairman has written to John Swinney to confirm that Dr Gemmell intended to take his bonus as normal this year.

Jim Tough, of the Scottish Arts Council, earns £81,000 a year, while Ken Hay of Scottish Screen is on £77,000. Last year they both got bonuses worth 5% of their salaries.

The Sunday Herald quotes a source close to Mr Swinney has saying:

“John has now written twice to public bodies calling on their bosses to waive any bonus. In our view, the momentum will build and the more who agree to do it, the more people will expect the others to follow suit. John is on the case, and already significant progress has been made.”

Scottish Labour’s Finance Spokesman, David Whitton concluded:

“Any chief executive who has taken a bonus in these particularly difficult times will have to answer in the court of public opinion.”

For the Liberal Democrats, their Finance Spokesman, Jeremy Purvis said:

“It’s unacceptable that any high-paid public sector worker should receive a bonus this year. The government has had ample time to sort bonuses out and needs to get a grip. The public won’t understand why quango bosses and top civil servants are getting bonuses during the worst economic situation since devolution.”

Earlier last week, Conservative Leader in Scotland, Annabel Goldie announced her party’s proposals for a pay freeze for all public sector workers earning more than £18,000 which, they believe would save thousands of jobs during the recession. Ms Goldie said:

“The freeze is not about penalising people – it is about saving people’s jobs. A pay freeze on this scale is the equivalent of saving 10,000 jobs.

“I would rather people were in work with a pay freeze than out of work with no pay at all. We are all in this together and when I say ‘we’ I mean the public sector and the private sector, I mean Scotland and England, I mean the politicians and the people.”

Reacting, Scottish Labour Leader, Iain Gray attacked the plan:

“The Tory plans will actively damage the economy by taking the money out of the pockets of hard-working Scottish families.”

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