New Civil Service Compensation Scheme proposals expected ‘in weeks’
Cabinet Office to boost payments made under 2016 scheme after High Court challenge, but Manzoni moots replacement
The Cabinet Office has signalled its intention to appeal the decision to quash changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA
The Cabinet Office is expected to begin consulting on new proposals to update the Civil Service Compensation Scheme in a matter of weeks, after changes that took effect in November last year were quashed at the High Court.
Hundreds of civil servants who agreed redundancy settlements under the set-aside scheme are due have their packages updated to the more favourable terms of the 2010 CSCS by the end of the year following the outcome of July’s Judicial Review.
However the PCS union, which led the challenge, said a letter from civil service chief executive John Manzoni informing it of the decision to revisit packages agreed under the 2016 scheme also said officials were considering options “including to consult again on further changes to the CSCS”.
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Other union sources representing Whitehall staff told Civil Service World they expected a new consultation to be launched within weeks, possibly before the end of the month.
PCS’s challenge to the introduction of the 2016 scheme hung on its successful argument that it had effectively been excluded from a consultation on the final proposals because of a Cabinet Office “condition” that attendance at talks would be taken as a commitment to the government’s proposals.
Whitehall unions Prospect and the FDA took part in the talks to avoid more stringent terms being imposed.
Lord Justice Sales and Mrs Justice Whipple said it was “not surprising” that PCS was unable to give a commitment of the kind being sought by the Cabinet Office and ruled that the then Cabinet Officer minister Ben Gummer acted unlawfully, and in breach of his statutory duty. They subsequently quashed the 2016 scheme.
The Cabinet Office has signalled its intention to appeal the High Court decision, but according to PCS it has also agreed to reinstate the 2010 CSCS terms and instructed pensions administrator MyCSP to contact staff who left on 2016 CSCS packages and “make further payments” by the end of the year.
PCS said that in some cases the bolstered packages would be 25% more than those available under the 2016 scheme.
Both Prospect and the FDA have previously expressed fears that the High Court defeat would prompt the Cabinet Office to table new proposals that are less favourable to staff than the set-aside 2016 scheme.
Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, said the Cabinet Office would have to “start from scratch” with new proposals for an updated compensation scheme and predicted it would happen “within weeks”.
“For us, as a union, we reached an agreement and we want them to honour that,” he said.
“But this issue is not going away.”
Penman said he expected the Cabinet Office would need to allow between three and six months for a proper consultation on any new compensation scheme, and would be anxious to get measures in place to supersede the reinstated 2010 scheme as quickly as possible.
He pointed to a 2010 Judicial Review victory on the part of PCS, which challenged changes to the CSCS drawn up by the last Labour government – but which prompted less favourable coalition government revisions – as the basis of his fears for any new proposals tabled by the Cabinet Office.
Prospect greeted July’s High Court victory for PCS with similar concerns. At the time, deputy general secretary Garry Graham said there was a “real danger” the Judicial Review would provide ministers with the opportunity to revisit the 2016 agreement “with the aim of making further cuts”.
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