SNP warned wealthy could leave Scotland as top wages decline in real terms

(Photo: John Devlin)
(Photo: John Devlin)
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High earners in Scotland have suffered a “real terms” fall in wages in recent years while lower-paid workers have seen their pay go up, new research has shown.

Those in occupations including directors, IT professionals, engineers and managers have all seen their pay go down in the past year as the Scottish Government presses ahead with plans to increase the tax burden on such workers.

It has prompted fresh concerns wealthier Scots may be prompted to leave the country.

The top-earning 10 per cent of Scottish workers have seen their salaries fall by 2 per cent between 2011 and 2018, according to new research by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe). This would cover those on a salary of about £53,000 and above.

The bottom 25 per cent of earners – those making £17,000 or less – have seen their wages go up by 5.3 per cent, the research indicates.

Those on median salaries of about £23,833 have seen a smaller increase of 1.9 per cent, according to the report, entitled Earnings in Scotland 2018.

The offshore oil and gas sector is still the most lucrative sector to work in north of the Border, but the recent slump has seen wages continue to shrink over the past year.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “While many people will not have much sympathy for the decrease in higher incomes, further tax increases could push this income bracket to leave and deny Scotland any tax take. However, the SNP tax hikes will also charge middle earners more compared to the rest of the UK, which, after such small wage growth, seems punitive.”

An offshore worker living in Scotland earning £50,000 will pay £1,500 more than a fellow rigger who lives south of the Border under proposed changes to tax bands set out by finance secretary Derek Mackay in his draft budget.

The highest paid industry is mining and quarrying, with an hourly rate of £21.38, but wages have come down 2.3 per cent over the past year.

People working in IT, engineering and health are paid the most, on £19.92 an hour. This group is followed by managers, directors and senior officials on £18.91, according to the research. Both groups have suffered real terms declines in their pay of 0.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively over the past year, the research shows.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “As a result of our fairer, more ­progressive income tax ­system, most taxpayers will pay less income tax next year than if they lived elsewhere in the UK.”