Anger over ‘outrageous’ pay increase
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.