COUNCILLORS in Inverclyde are to get a two per cent pay rise despite a continuing squeeze on local authority budgets.

The salaries of local politicians across Scotland have been frozen since 2009.

But the basic pay for all of Scotland’s councillors will go up in March by one per cent from the current £16,234 to £16,560, backdated to 1 April last year — in line with what has been awarded to staff and offered to teachers.

This will be followed by a further one per cent rise for councillors in April.

The Scottish Government said the move followed representations from councils’ umbrella body Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities).

Explaining the rise, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Following representation from councillors and Cosla, ministers took the decision to end the period of pay restraint and have awarded what they consider is a fair award in the current financial climate.” The rises were defended today by Inverclyde’s Depute Provost David Wilson, pictured, who is Scotland’s representative on the National Association of Councillors. He said: “I will defend these rises until I’m blue in the face.

“Councillors work extremely hard and their pay is poor compared with that given to list MSPs.

“I’ve never really understood what list MSPs actually do, but councillors certainly deserve their pay rise.” Mr Wilson also criticised the current level of responsibility payment given to council leaders, describing it as ‘a scandal’.

Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe receives an overall total of £27,058, but Mr Wilson said: “The leader is responsible for an enormous budget. It is a big responsibility for very little reward.” News of a rise in pay for councillors follows hot on the heels of plans to increase the amounts paid to politicians at Holyrood and Westminster.

The salary of MSPs has been linked to that of MPs since 2002, with politicians at the Scottish Parliament paid 87.5 per cent of an MP’s wage — meaning an MSP’s salary is currently £58,097 a year.

Now proposals are in place to scrap that connection and instead bring MSP rises into line with the public sector.

Meanwhile, MPs could get an 11 per cent increase of £7,600, taking their pay up to £74,000.

Inverclyde MP Iain McKenzie has previously told the Tele he would refuse such a large rise.