FDA union urges ministers to ‘put money where their mouth is’ to end Whitehall pay cap

Written by Richard Johnstone on 5 July 2017 in News

Union writes to ministers including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt highlighting departments' ability to make case for pay deals above the 1% limit

Photo: Dods

The FDA trade union for senior civil servants has today written to cabinet ministers who have indicated support for ending the government’s 1% public sector pay cap to urge them to “put their money where their mouth is” and back a bigger increase for staff in their department.

Letters sent to foreign secretary Boris Johnson, defence secretary Michael Fallon, environment secretary Michael Gove and health secretary Jeremy Hunt from FDA general secretary Dave Penman said “warm words” must be followed up with “concrete action”.


Penman highlighted that much of the debate around pay since the election had focused on pay review bodies, which make recommendations on sector pay for senior civil servants, NHS staff and teachers, currently based on a Treasury mandate to keep increases within the 1% limit.

But he said the review bodies do not cover most of the civil service, with pay policy for most grades in departments instead decided by collective bargaining.

Each secretary of state has responsibility for the pay remit submitted to Treasury on behalf of their department, which Penman said gave the ministers a “unique opportunity” to directly make the case for ending the pay cap.

“FDA members will welcome the warm words from a number of cabinet ministers over lifting the public sector pay cap. But warm words won’t pay the bills,” he said.

“The majority of civil servants are not covered by pay review bodies and so those very same ministers have it within their control to lift the pay cap for civil servants in their department.

“Each of these ministers will have sign off on the pay settlement for their staff this year. They cannot hide behind pay review bodies with restricted remits. Failure to act will demonstrate these warm words were little more than meaningless platitudes.”

Penman said the FDA recognised that public services need to be delivered as efficiently as possible and ending the pay cap for civil servants could begin a process of wider civil service pay reform that “will ultimately deliver benefits to both public services and public servants”.

Penman’s call comes after Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka yesterday said “ministers insisting we wait for recommendations from pay review bodies are just ducking responsibility”.

Serwotka added: “The majority of public sector workers are not covered by a review body and, in the civil service as elsewhere, the Treasury holds the purse strings, sets the policy and has the power to change it.”

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Richard Johnstone is CSW's deputy and online editor and tweets as @CSW_DepEd

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