You Know You’ve Been Quangoed

Last week, we outlined the largely unaccountable role of quangos in running Scotland and the unconscoinable salaries that their senior managers pull down. This week, we give the details. If they all took a 10% cut in salary, they would all still be well above the MSP’s £59,085 wages, let alone the £20,062 average wage in Scotland. And we’d have saved enough to pay for 260 teachers, nurses or police.

Total Quango spend in Scotland is £13,334,556,588 (i.e. over £13bn) or half of all public expenditure. Some £287m of that was spent by Scottish Enterprise alone. Older readers may recall former Scottish Secretary George Robertson’s promise to make a “bonfire of the quangos”. At the time of that promise, there were 186; there are still 115 today.

Quangos are alive and well and mostly living in pricey suites like Apex House (SFC), Atlantic Quay (SE) or Waverley Gate (NHS Lothian). Of course, their senior management teams need recompense commensurate with their fancy offices and status in society; six are paid more than the Prime Minister. Scottish Water’s chief executive Douglas Millican pulls in £263,000. Scottish Enterprise’s chief executive Lena Wilson (one of the very few females) is on £203,000 and VisitScotland’s Mike Cantley makes a mere £146,000. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of any of ‘em; that’s how the system works and you’re in the same boat as 95% of Scots.

Leaving out the NHS and the SFC (universities and colleges), if all remaining quangos were to pull in their belts across their budgets (and not just senior management salaries) with a 10% reduction, we’d save £1,893m—or 63,100 teachers, nurses or police.

Here is a list of the 115 and how much of your money they spend each year:


  • Scottish Funding Council                                           £1.7bn
  • Scottish Enterprise                                                      £287m
  • Skills Development                                                      £196m
  • Legal Aid Board                                                            £167m
  • Police Services Authority                                             £98m
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise                             £81m
  • Scottish Natural Heritage                                            £64m
  • VisitScotland                                                                  £50m
  • Arts Council                                                                    £47m
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency                £46m
  • SportScotland                                                                 £41m
  • National Museums                                                        £37m
  • National Galleries                                                          £26m
  • Children’s Reporter                                                        £25m
  • National Library                                                             £20m
  • Royal Botanic Garden                                                    £14m
  • Scottish Qualifications Authority                                £13m
  • Social Services Council                                                    £9m
  • Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park       £7m
  • Crofters’ Commission                                                       £6m
  • Bòrd na Gàidhlig na h-Alba                                             £6m
  • Royal Commission on Ancient & Hist. Monuments   £5m
  • Cairngorms National Park                                               £5m
  • Scottish Screen                                                                   £4m
  • Deer Commission                                                              £2m
  • Risk Management                                                              £2m


  • Judicial Appointments Board                                      £309m
  • Law Commission                                                       £996,000
  • Architecture + Design Scotland                              £952,000
  • Local Government Boundary Commission          £340,000
  • Advisory Committee on Distinction Awards        £134,000
  • Local Authorities Remuneration Committee         £35,000
  • Public Transport Users Committee                           £15,000


  • Mental health                                                                    £11m
  • Parole Board                                                                       £1m
  • Private rented housing                                         £   428,000


  • Scottish Water                                                               £182m
  • Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd                               £26m
  • Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd                                    £7m
  • Scottish Futures Trust                                            £440,000


  • Greater Glasgow                                                             £2bn
  • Lothian                                                                              £1bn
  • Lanarkshire                                                                  £889m
  • Grampian                                                                      £798m
  • Tayside                                                                          £689m
  • Ayrshire and Arran                                                      £649m
  • Fife                                                                                   £570m
  • Highland                                                                        £564m
  • Forth Valley                                                                   £434m
  • Dumfries and Galloway                                               £270m
  • Ambulance service                                                       £197m
  • Borders                                                                           £186m
  • Western Isles                                                                 £69m
  • National Waiting Times Centre Board                      £66m
  • NHS24                                                                              £54m
  • State Hospital Board                                                     £52m
  • Shetland                                                                           £49m
  • Orkney                                                                              £44m

About davidsberry

Local ex-councillor, tour guide and database designer. Keen on wildlife, history, boats and music. Retired in 2017.
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