MORE than 40 quango bosses are paid more than the First Minister’s £141,000 annual salary, research has found.
Around 130 people working for public bodies receive more than a Cabinet Secretary’s salary of £101,000, while almost 700 are paid more than an MSP’s salary of £58,000.
Think-tank Reform Scotland carried out the study and believes quangos “are not sufficiently accountable to the Scottish Parliament or the Scottish people”.
The organisations lead the delivery of public services in Scotland including culture, healthcare, the environment and justice. They are managed by a board whose members are directly appointed by Government ministers.
Freedom of Information requests were sent to all 72 of Scotland’s quangos, with 61 replying.
It found that 43 executives are paid more than the First Minister, 132 are paid more than a Cabinet Secretary and 686 are paid more than an MSP.
Although health boards are classed as quangos, only the salaries of board members were taken into consideration for the report, rather than including the pay of medical staff.
Reform Scotland believes all quangos, with the exception of tribunals, should either become fully independent of government, or have their functions transferred to existing government departments.
Research director Alison Payne said: “These salaries themselves may be able to be justified - that is not for us to say. What cannot be justified is the use of quangos to this extent.
“They are neither fully democratically accountable nor fully independent of government, so these salary awards are subject to very little transparency or democratic accountability.
“Scotland needs to end its love affair with quangos. They should either be reintegrated into government to make ministers accountable for them, or they should be made fully independent bodies contracting with the Government to provide a service, with the Government accountable for ensuring high performance.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said the number of quangos has been reduced in recent years.
“Since October 2007, the number of devolved public bodies has reduced from 199 to 113, greatly exceeding the Government’s original target to reduce the number by 25%,” the spokesman said.
“Mergers alone have saved £78 million between 2007 and 2012-13, and further savings will be delivered on an annual recurring basis.
“Pay ranges are assigned in relation to the roles and responsibilities of the position and to support the recruitment and retention of staff.
“We expect all parts of the public sector to ensure their activities deliver maximum value for money and we are continuing to look for further opportunities to simplify and streamline the public sector landscape, to reduce costs and improve the quality and efficiency of public services.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “The Scottish Government is ultimately responsible for many of these organisations, and it’s time it got to grips with the situation.
“It spends much time bemoaning low wages, yet uses every trick in the book to ensure people working at the top of the public sector are paid private sector wages.”