Anger over ‘out­ra­geous’ pay in­crease

Evening Times - - NEWS - By AN­DREW DENHOLM

FUND­ING bosses have come un­der pres­sure to block an “out­ra­geous” pay in­crease for a col­lege of­fi­cial at a time of aus­ter­ity.

MSPs have crit­i­cised the Scot­tish Fund­ing Coun­cil (SFC) for fail­ing to pre­vent the rise, agreed by Glas­gow Col­leges’ Re­gional Board (GCRB) last week.

Un­der the move, the salary of the board’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Robin Ash­ton will in­crease from £81,000 to £95,000 – a 17 per cent hike.

The pay rise has been de­fended by STUC chief ex­ec­u­tive Gra­hame Smith – the in­terim chair of the GCRB – who said the post of ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor car­ried “huge re­spon­si­bil­ity”. But at a meet­ing of the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s pub­lic au­dit com­mit­tee it was re­vealed that the board were told in ad­vance that both the SFC and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment did not think such an in­crease was jus­ti­fied.

The com­mit­tee heard that SFC in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr John Kemp had de­cided not to use his power to step in over the de­ci­sion be­cause such a move should only hap­pen in ex­treme cir­cum­stances.

Dr Kemp said he had in­stead writ­ten to Mr Smith mak­ing his views clear and was there­fore “dis­ap­pointed” about the sub­se­quent de­ci­sion that was reached.

He said: “My view was that I had con­fi­dence in the gov­er­nance of GCRB and I have to say my an­tic­i­pa­tion was that, af­ter hav­ing seen my let­ter and con­sid­ered the facts, it was un­likely they would take the de­ci­sion to in­crease the salary. This is a de­ci­sion that I don’t agree with, but it was prop­erly taken.”

SNP MSP Alex Neil pressed Dr Kemp on whether he could still step in to pre­vent the rise, which he de­scribed as “ab­so­lutely be­yond be­lief” and “out­ra­geous”.

He said: “Here we are still in a year when we’re telling nurses that they get one per cent and we’re talking about a nearly 20 per cent rise for some­body who is al­ready on a very sub­stan­tial salary which you clearly have in­di­cated that you don’t agree with. Why are you not us­ing your pow­ers?”

In re­sponse, Dr Kemp said he would con­sider whether the next op­tion was to use the power to in­ter­vene or whether it was ap­pro­pri­ate to open fur­ther di­a­logue with GCRB.

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