Tuesday 13 May 2003

Socialist salaries

I’ve received so many comments about Ms Kane that I thought another blog was in order.

The SSP website states that:

As things stand, back-bench MSPs are paid £48,000 while ministers are paid between £90,000 and £140,000. In contrast, more than 95 per cent of Scottish workers earn below £43,000 and 80 per cent of Scottish workers earn less than £27,000.

In line with the constitution of the party, all SSP candidates have pledged to live, if elected, on no more than the average salary of a skilled, professional Scottish worker.

The actual figure will be based on statistics supplied by the Scottish Parliament, covering earnings for professional, technical and craft occupations. In 2001, the average gross earnings across these categories worked out at £24,676 a year.

SSP candidates have pledged total transparency in all financial affairs, with details of all additional income, including expenses, published on the party's website.

All SSP candidates pledge to:
* Live on no more than the average professional/technical/craft wage. Concretely, that means that SSP MSPs will donate approximately half their salaries to help the fight for socialism in Scotland.
* Publish details of all expenses and how they have been spent.

Rosie thought that she would be paying £2,000 tax on her £48,000 gross pay. I’ve done a quick calculation and I reckon she’ll actually be paying tax and national insurance contributions totalling £14,809 PA, giving her a net salary of £33,191. So this new MSP has just found out that the middle class “fat cats” that the SSP needs to fund their mad-cap schemes already pay more than seven times as much tax as she thought.

Again, the much-quoted SSP policy of giving up half of their salary isn’t quite what it seems. The party states that the “average salary of a skilled, professional Scottish worker” was £24,676 in 2001. Assuming a 3% rise each year, we get £26,179 in 2003. The salary given back to the party would therefore be £21,821 on a gross basis – a “sacrifice” of some 45%.

But it doesn’t end there. Surely the idea is that the SSP MSPs should have the same standard of living as a skilled worker. The target worker on £26,179 gross receives £19,296 net of tax and NI and Rosie should therefore give £13,895 of her net salary to the party (£33,191 less £19,296), a “sacrifice” of just under 42%. The proportionality of the tax system causes the sacrifice to be smaller on a net-of-tax basis.

So far, I can’t see any of the details of Mr Sheridan’s expenses on the SSP website. I look forward to reading them. It would be interesting for an MSP of another party to ask the comrades to declare to the parliament that they will give up 42% (or 50%!) of their pensions and relocation grants when they return to the ranks of the skilled workforce or, more likely, to continue as tax-consumers of another kind.

Incidentally, Colin Fox, the new SSP MSP whom I think I saw in my local pub yesterday, is a qualified accountant. We can surely rely on him to keep the party's finances in order.