Swinney: top earners should shoulder burden of cutbacks
Finance secretary John Swinney may lop 5% off high earners
Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott has estimated that at least 600 million a year goes into the pay packets of top earners in Scotland's public sector.
And yesterday Mr Swinney gave a warm response to the idea.
He pointed out that the Scottish Government has already imposed a pay freeze for senior civil servants and ministers.
He also underlined that he disagreed with the Liberal Democrats in Westminster who have proposed a pay freeze for all public sector workers including the worst off. He said: "It is the highest paid who should shoulder the burden."
But on Mr Scott's proposal he added: "The Liberal Democrats have raised the issue with me and I am considering it."
Among the highest paid in Scotland are Lena Wilson, who was recently appointed as chief executive to a scaled down Scottish Enterprise but receives 203,000 a year.
Barry White was appointed by the Scottish Government to head up its controversial Scottish Futures Trust for 180,000 a year. There are 1,200 of top earners in the National Health Service in Scotland alone with a bill of 300m, including 50m paid in bonuses.
Mr Scott has argued that the 30m saved from his proposed cut could be used to give better pay deals to the worst of in the public sector, many of whom are stuck on the minimum wage.
"We're asking the government to look at the overall public sector pay bill in Scotland and take out 5 per cent across that pay bill at the very top. In other words on people earning more than 100,000 so that we can protect people at the bottom and also help with the overall pressure the finances of the public sector are under," he said yesterday.
"We want to make sure some of that money is used to help people at the bottom, the cleaners, nurses, the auxiliary staff as well as helping with the overall state of the public finances which as we all know are in real trouble."
By trying to divert resources to lower paid workers Mr Scott hopes to neutralise opposition from the unions who have in the past complained that politicians have concentrated to much on attacking those at the top of the pay scale and not enough on helping out the poorest.
Mr Scott also made it clear that he would have a list of other demands to be met before his party supports the budget.
But after the fiasco early this year when the budget was voted down at first, Mr Swinney will be looking for easy, popular ways of getting opposition parties on side for next year's budget.