Scottish FE executive’s 17% pay rise blocked after ministerial intervention

18 Sep 17

The board that oversees Glasgow’s three further education colleges has dropped plans to award a 17% pay rise to a senior official.

This followed intervention by the deputy first minister after the proposal was roundly criticised by Holyrood’s public audit committee.

Education secretary John Swinney stepped in over what the committee called an “entirely inappropriate” £14,000 pay hike for Robin Ashton, executive director of the Glasgow Colleges Regional Board. 

The interim head of the Scottish Funding Council, responsible for finance in tertiary education, revealed to the committee that he had also counselled against the increase.

Initially, the GCRB, which is chaired by Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary Grahame Smith, had defended the increase in Ashton’s salary from £81,000 to £95,000, arguing that the higher figure reflected the responsibilities of the post.

But Swinney wrote to the committee over the weekend, confirming that his staff had been in “close discussion” with Smith and with the funding council, and that the increase would not now be paid.

"We have today been advised by [Smith] that he has reconsidered the decision made by the board, taking into account the views of [audit committee] members and recognising the expectations of the Scottish Government that those funded from the public purse should operate within the spirit of the principles of the public sector pay policy,” Swinney wrote.

"He has confirmed that there will be no change to the existing terms and conditions of the current post holder.”

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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