Holyrood’s MSPs reject ‘wholly inappropriate’ pay rise

Westminster MPs, however, are still in line for a pay hike of £3,300

Bethany Dawson
Friday 04 December 2020 19:15
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Under its first pro-independence Scottish National Party administration in Holyrood, the 2010 elections in Scotland present an intriguing case.
Under its first pro-independence Scottish National Party administration in Holyrood, the 2010 elections in Scotland present an intriguing case.

Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) are to reject a "wholly inappropriate" pay rise next year, Holyrood's presiding officer has announced.

Intended salary increases for MSPs are linked to public sector pay and they would have been in line for a 5.1 per cent rise in 2021, taking their current salaries from £64,4700 to £67,757, not accounting for additional financial entitlements for ministers and officers of the Parliament

But presiding officer Ken Macintosh announced the Scottish Parliament's cross-party corporate body has rejected a pay rise for MSPs next year and has called for salaries to be frozen.

Any pay rises are linked to public sector rises in Scotland using the annual survey of hours and earnings (ASHE) published by the Office for National Statistics.

By that measure, MSPs would have been able to request a 5.1 per cent pay rise in 2021.

In a letter to MSPs, Mr Macintosh wrote: "In the midst of a public health crisis with such devastating economic consequences and hardship for so many households, the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body [SPCB] unanimously agreed yesterday that it would be wholly inappropriate for the ASHE index to be applied to MSP and ministerial salaries next year."

The SPCB, chaired by the presiding officer, instead unanimously agreed to ask for salaries to be frozen in their budget bid to the Finance and Constitution Committee.

Mr Macintosh added: "These are exceptional circumstances and no other decision would have been appropriate or welcome at this time - either inside or out- with Parliament.

"Now, more than ever, is a time for political leadership where our own salaries are concerned."

Boris Johnson has said he opposes a pay rise for MPs in Westminster. It is expected that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which sets MPs’ salaries,  will recommended that MPs should get a 4.1 per cent increase worth £3,300. However, a spokesperson for No 10 said: “MPs’ salaries are obviously decided by an independent body but given the circumstances, the PM doesn’t believe MPs should be receiving a pay rise."

The prime minister has also rejected an additional pay increase for ministers. 

On top of their MP’s pay of almost £82,000, ministers receive separate government salaries worth £75,440 for the Prime Minister, £67,505 for Secretaries of State and between £22,375 and £31,680 for lower-ranking ministers. 

Drawing similarities to the comments mad by Mr Macintosh and Mr Johnson, leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer, said: “This year of all years we shouldn’t have [a pay rise."

"That money, if it’s available, should be spent on key workers – those who have been on the frontline through this pandemic.” 

As well as extra pay for ministers, MPs also receive expenses to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, having somewhere to live in London or their constituency, and travelling between parliament and their constituency.

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