SCS pay remit hints at ‘fundamental’ reform – but only confirms funding for 1% increase
Letter from Cabinet Office minister Damian Green says government will consider a cap-busting increase “in return for improvements to public sector productivity”
Cabinet Office minister Damian Green told the Senior Salaries Review Body that pay rises above 1% would be considered. Credit: PA
Details of a pay review for senior civil servants have hinted at a “fundamental” government review of top Whitehall salary structures, but also confirmed any increase above 1% in 2017/18 would likely come from departmental budgets.
In a letter to the Senior Salaries Review Body setting out its remit for the 2018/19 SCS review, Cabinet Office minister Damian Green acknowledged the body had recommended last year “that the government seek to undertake a fundamental review of SCS pay framework during 2017/18”.
Green confirmed that work has taken place over the past year “to consider the current impact of the SCS pay system”.
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He added: “We want to work collaboratively with the review body on the issues it raises.”
Green also confirmed the Treasury would consider possible pay rises for senior staff above the 1% cap that has been in place since 2012 as part of “a more flexible approach to public sector pay”. This could be used to “address any areas of skills shortages and in return for improvements to public sector productivity”, Green said, but he added that the last Spending Review budgeted for 1% average basic pay awards, in addition to progression pay for specific workforces.
There would still need to be “pay discipline” in the years ahead in order to ensure “the affordability of the public service and the sustainability of public sector employment”, he added. As a result, the SSRB should “continue to consider affordability when making their recommendations”.
The SSRB has also been asked to provide a view on the effectiveness of the new pay structures for commercial staff in government. Those employed by the Government Commercial Organisation have better, and ring-fenced, pay and conditions as part of an effort to improve Whitehall skills in this profession. Green wrote that all staff on these terms are reviewed by an independent remuneration committee that reports annually to the Treasury. However, he added: “We would, nonetheless, also welcome your comments on the GCO pay framework, as we consider how the civil service responds in specific areas on recruitment and retention.”
The publication of the remit letter comes after the Public and Commercial Services union signalled it intends to step up its campaign to end the 1% cap, with proposals for new protests and preparations for a statutory strike ballot.
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