Almost 700 quango staff paid more than an MSP according to new research


New Reform Scotland research exposes accountability gap as it emerged 43 staff are paid more than the First Minister, and well over 100 are paid a six-figure sum

Reform Scotland, the independent non-party think tank, has published new research highlighting the salaries paid to leading executives in Scotland’s 72 quangos. The think tank has been a leading critic of the lack of accountability and transparency in quango expenditure, which remains largely beyond public scrutiny.

Last year, we published research showing that 19 quango Chief Executives are paid more than the First Minister’s salary of £141,000. Our new research shows that:

  • 43 quango officials are paid more than the First Minister’s salary of £141,000
  • 132 quango officials are paid more than a Cabinet Secretary’s salary of £101,000
  • 202 quango officials are paid more than a Government Minister’s salary of £85,000
  • 686 quango officials are paid more than an MSP’s salary of £58,000

The full briefing can be downloaded here.

Commenting, Reform Scotland’s 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.”



1. The quango salary briefing can be downloaded here.

2. Reform Scotland is an independent, non-party think tank that aims to set out a better way to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility. Further information is available at

3. Health boards are classed as quangos, however we have included in our figures ONLY board members and senior employees referred to in remuneration reports. In other words, we have NOT included clinicians.

4. Media contact: Andy Maciver, Message Matters, 07855 261 244 or