Data reveals full scale of regional pay variance by grade

Written by Jim Dunton on 27 January 2020 in News
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Northern Ireland has lowest median rates at Grade 6 to Executive Officer level

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A regional breakdown of pay in the UK civil service shows that Northern Ireland has the lowest median rates for most roles below SCS level.

The Cabinet Office’s just-updated earnings figures also detail the differences in median earnings from grade to grade across the whole nation.

According to the statistics, civil servants at all ranks from Executive Officer to Grade 6 have lower median pay in Northern Ireland than any other region. The figures relate to members of the UK civil service who are based in Northern Ireland, rather than the 23,000 strong Northern Ireland Civil Service.


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According to the most recent data, fewer than 1% of the home civil service's headcount is based in Northern Ireland. A workforce overview published in October said there were 3,690 people working for the UK civil service in Northern Ireland as of 31 March 2019, the majority of them employed by either HM Revenue and Customs or the Ministry of Defence. 

The new data revealed executive officers have a median salary of £24,450 – almost 5% below the median for all UK civil servants at the grade and more than 5% below the median for England.

For Grade 6 officers in Northern Ireland – immediately below SCS level – the variance between their £61,510 median pay is also more than 5% off  the £65,000 figure for all UK civil servants at the grade and 8.5% below the median for Grade 6 staff based in Scotland.

Below management level, Wales has the lowest median pay for administrative assistants: £17,280, against a service-wide median of £18,730 at the grade.

On a UK wide level, the statistics – which are based the 2019 Annual Civil Service Employment Survey – also show a leap in median pay from grade to grade. They demonstrate a median-pay step-up of £12,890 between Grade 7 and the higher Grade 6, while the hike from Senior Executive Officer level to Grade 7 is £12,730.

Higher Executive Officers had median pay of £31,700, which is £6,000 more than next-rung-down Executive Officers

Less grade-specific pay data published by the Cabinet Office in November showed the median wage earned by Senior Civil Servants was £81,520.

However, a region-by-region breakdown showed considerable variances. Median pay for SCS-grade staff in Scotland was £74,640; in Northern Ireland it was £75,010; and it was £78,080 in Wales.

The all-England SCS median was £82,940, but once London-based civil servants were factored out the median SCS pay for England increased to £87,640 – a variance said to reflect the impact of top-earning Whitehall-based SCS members on the figures.

The full pay data can be seen here.

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