MSPs will receive a below-inflation pay rise this year, Holyrood’s governing body has decided.

The members will receive a 1.5% increase from April, meaning the rate of pay will be £67,661.

Jackson Carlaw, a member of the cross-party Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB), discussed its budget bid at the Finance Committee on Tuesday.

Since 2016, MSPs’ pay has been linked with the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (Ashe) index.

Carlaw (below) told the committee: “I would like to highlight that this 1.5% increase is not intended as any form of virtue signalling.

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The National:

“We are simply applying the Ashe index at the published rate and continue to follow this approach.”

He said this normally lagged behind public sector pay and led to a higher increase in the forthcoming year.

Costs for MSPs' staff and offices will go up by 5.6% in accordance with a different index.

Carlaw said the Scottish Parliament’s heating system also needs to be replaced with more modern equipment. This project is expected to cost up to £4.5 million over four years.

The SPCB also has responsibility for resourcing several commissioners and office holders associated with public life in Scotland.

This budget is increasing by 8.1%, with much of it being driven by an increase in the funding for the Ethical Standards Commissioner.

Committee convener Kenneth Gibson questioned the MSP pay increase, asking why a different index was used for staff and office costs

He said: “You said there was no virtue signalling, but there clearly is.”

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Use of the Ashe index could mean that MSPs would receive an inflation-busting pay rise next year when other public sector workers did not, Gibson said.

He said: “It just seems to me daft from a PR point of view, from a practical point of view, from any point of view.”

Carlaw said the decision to use the Ashe index was made collectively by MSPs in 2016 when the link with Westminster pay rates was broken.

He said it was important for the setting of MSPs’ pay to be independent and there would be huge “opprobrium” if they simply chose whatever rate was the most beneficial.

In April 2022, the basic salary for an MSP increased by 3.4% to £66,662 after it had been frozen the previous year due to the pandemic.