The Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Tricia Marwick MSP, announced today that the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) will recommend to the Parliament that the current link with MPs pay should be broken and that, in future, MSPs pay should be directly linked to pay increases for public sector employees in Scotland.
MSPs pay has been set at 87.5% of MPs pay since 2002.
The decision, which was taken by the SPCB in October, and was subsequently unanimously endorsed by all Party Leaders, follows cross party discussions led by the Presiding Officer.
The announcement of the new pay mechanism comes amid reports that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) is likely to propose new remuneration terms for MPs, which would mean a rise of 11% for MSPs if no action was taken by the Scottish Parliament.
The Presiding Officer has written to all MSPs today explaining the proposal.
Mrs Marwick said:
"The SPCB has been aware of the IPSA consultation for some time and has been considering the most appropriate mechanism for setting MSPs pay in the future. It is unthinkable that a significant pay rise for MSPs could be agreed, particularly in the current economic climate when many of our constituents are struggling to make ends meet. The SPCB is therefore proposing that the current link with MPs pay be broken and that instead we put future increases in MSPs pay on an equal footing with those in the public sector in Scotland.
"It is incumbent on us to show leadership and restraint and to limit our increase in pay to the same level as the public sector. The SPCB appreciates the support of all the Party Leaders and will take steps at the appropriate time to make the recommendation to the Parliament for approval".
The new mechanism is expected to retain the principle that MSPs do not vote on or set their own pay rise.
The full text of the Presiding Officer’s letter is set out below:
SPCB recommends breaking link with MPs Pay
All Members will be aware of IPSA’s review of MPs remuneration, the results of which are imminent.
MSP salaries are currently linked at 87.5% of MPs pay, meaning that, if we took no action, IPSA’s recommendation to increase MP salaries by 11% in 2015, would have the same consequential effect on MSP salaries from that date.
Given the review initiated by IPSA, the SPCB has, throughout the summer and early autumn, been considering the most appropriate mechanism for determining MSPs pay going forward.
Having reflected carefully on the matter, and with the full support of Party Leaders, it is the SPCB’s view that, from 2015, the current pay link should be replaced with a new mechanism which would directly link MSP salaries to future public sector pay rises in Scotland. Such a mechanism would be in keeping with the SPCB’s recent financial strategy that has included a two year pay freeze for MSPs. This approach also ensures we retain the important principle of Members not voting on their own pay on an annual basis, with our pay instead directly linked to an appropriate independent benchmark.
The SPCB recommends that the already proposed 1% pay rise for MSPs pay in 2014, be retained with the new mechanism coming into effect thereafter.
I enclose for your information a copy of the paper which the SPCB considered in October. It sets out the background to the SPCB’s deliberations since IPSA’s review began, and also gives details of the Public Sector Pay Indices in Scotland the SPCB considered. Having reviewed these options, we recommend linking to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) for the average of full time public sector workers in Scotland.
With the support of the Parliamentary Bureau, the SPCB will seek a resolution of Parliament to amend our pay scheme and put in place the new mechanism which will determine our rate of pay in years to come.
The SPCB firmly believes that, particularly in the current economic climate, we must show leadership and restraint and limit our increase in pay to the same level as the public sector. I therefore invite Members to support the resolution when it comes before Parliament for approval.
The current MSP salary level is £58,097.
Ministerial salaries will also be up-rated annually in accordance with the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) for the average of full time public sector workers in Scotland.