Four staff earn more than First Minister

FOUR Scottish Government staff earned more than the First Minister's combined entitlement.

The staff were among 400 employees across government and Holyrood earning more than the 57,000 MSP salary as of 31 March.

Finance secretary John Swinney revealed the figures after questions from the Conservatives on pay. He said 359 permanent government employees had a full-time base salary in excess of the annual MSP salary.

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Of these, four earned more than the First Minister's entitlement of just under 140,000, which includes his MSP pay.

One of the four, Robert Gordon, has since left his position as head of legal services. The three remaining were permanent secretary Sir John Elvidge, Stella Manzie of the justice and communities department and Kevin Woods, director of general health. Among Scottish Parliament staff, 41 earned more than an MSP.

Tory MSP Mary Scanlon, who obtained the figures, said: "People will be surprised that there are 400 people in the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament who earn more than MSPs, including some who are paid more than even the First Minister.

"Scottish Conservatives have warned for a long time that if the government doesn't prepare for lower spending, there will be unnecessary pain as cuts which are easy but painful are introduced ahead of savings which take time but have less impact on the front line.

"The biggest challenge Scotland faces in the years ahead is to create a thriving and growing private sector to create new jobs and opportunities."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Senior civil service pay is specifically reserved to the UK government at Westminster."