Priti Patel calls for restraint on ‘crazy and wrong’ civil service pay – report

Written by Agnes Chambre on 2 August 2017 in News

Sources close to Cabinet minister says she feels Whitehall pay is “out of step” with pay for comparable posts in the private sector

Photo: PA

The Cabinet Office is “crazy” and needs to “get a grip” on Whitehall pay levels, Priti Patel has reportedly said.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Ms Patel believes the salaries of senior civil servants earning up to £300,000 are “out of step” with public opinion and should be restrained.

The comments come after the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) – which advises ministers on the pay settlements for the highest ranks of the military, judiciary, and Whitehall – last month called for a “fundamental review” of the pay system for senior civil servants.


It said there was a “very deep lack of confidence” about pay awards, and warned of a “demotivating effect”.

A source close the Ms Patel told the Telegraph: “Priti has clearly stated she does not support senior level pay increase. The pay issue is ongoing with discussions going on right now over pay.

“Some director generals are paid almost twice as much as the secretary of state to do their job and yet they do not take full responsibility for their actions and screw ups.

“Her view is that the PM has rightly capped ministerial pay, to around £60,000, yet director generals last year were paid in the realm of £180,000 and received bonuses – so at that level they should be subject to restraint.

“High pay and bonuses come on top of their enormous pension pots and it’s not as if they are either going to go on strike or walk into better paid jobs in the real world.

“The Cabinet Office are crazy and wrong on this stuff. Salaries are too high and way out of line with public opinion.

“Director general's top pay and bonuses come on top of their enormous pension pots all of which are unmatched in the private sector and outside of the civil service.

"The Cabinet Office needs to reform, and grip senior pay levels as the levels they have set are wrong and out of step with many other comparable external roles."

A government spokesman said: “The civil service deals with varied and complex issues and needs to attract, recruit and retain highly skilled individuals, which means it is sometimes appropriate to pay higher salaries.

“Such cases are fully scrutinised – the approval of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury is required for any civil service appointment under ministerial control where remuneration is £142,500 or above on a full-time equivalent basis.”

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Agnes Chambre
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Agnes Chambre reports for CSW's dedicated political sister site,, where a version of this story first appeared.

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James Brown (not verified)

Submitted on 2 August, 2017 - 13:43
It's ridiculous to claim that Ministers' salaries are only £60K - most also get paid an MP's salary, which is around £75K. Many - possibly most - DsG don't get anything like the £180K suggested - and even if they do, it's a fraction of what you'd get in the private sector. The implication of pegging salaries to the dictates of public opinion is madness. If you want talent, you have to pay for it. If not, just offer senior roles to Daily Mail readers and see where you end up!

UnderPaid (not verified)

Submitted on 2 August, 2017 - 13:46
With the majority of Civil Servants having faced 7 years of either a pay freeze or 1% pay cap, it's crazy that the 'people at the top' continue to have their salaries increased. Even cross-Departments there are un level pay scales. Why not put them all down to 90k and redistribute??

Paul Rutter (not verified)

Submitted on 2 August, 2017 - 13:55
Can I suggest Ms Patel limits herself to the facts as they stand and keeps her opinions to herself. The majority of civil servants earn on average £270,000 less than the "crazy and wrong" amounts that she is quoting.

OtherWorldReality (not verified)

Submitted on 2 August, 2017 - 13:52
Well it's this type of pronouncement that motivates me, I can tell you! Overpaid? Out of Step? And now not in 'the Real World'? Going back to my non-real world job to earn my other motivation, the extra £5 a week granted by the recent 'pay rise' (before tax, NIC and pension...)

Jamie Jones (not verified)

Submitted on 2 August, 2017 - 14:19
Another daily mail worthy, attention grabbing - and baseless - claim made here by Priti Patel. Though Ministers may have their pay capped, she forgets about all the other 'perks' they are afforded, namely expenses payments, that pay for their travel, accomadation and subsistence. If civil servants had all that paid for ' tax free' as ministers do, i am sure a lower salary would'nt be that much of an issue. Secondly those getting paid £300k, would only take home half of that pay, and considering the £300k is a a rare occurence with most of the chief execs/DGs on an average of £150k for running some of the largest organisations in the country i dont think it is unreasonable. In particular because other employee perks such as company cars, and bonuses are not as generous (or don't exist) as their private sector counterpart. And a classic example of 'Alternative Facts' by Priti here when she notes "The Cabinet Office needs to reform, and grip senior pay levels as the levels they have set are wrong and out of step with many other comparable external roles.". What she is right about is that they are out of step, however in the opposite direction to what she is implying. The fact is that civil service roles are much, much lower paid at the very highest levels in comparison to counterparts in the private sector. With many CEOs of large accountancy firms for example achieiving 7 figure salaries, the usual perks of expenses and shares/bonuses. All in all what this shows is that Priti is pretty out of touch with the real world. And rather than spending her time criticising the people who actually deliver public services, should spend time auditing her own behaviour and whether shouting about things which are quite clearly taken out of context or just plain untrue is the best way to go to achieve some sort of noteriety.

Peter Dickens (not verified)

Submitted on 2 August, 2017 - 14:50
While Priti Patel may be true in what she says regarding senior Civil Servants, I do hope that she realises that the opposite is true of the lower grades in the Civil Service; that we are not on high salaries, nor do we get bonuses nor big pension pots and many with increased pension costs and increased prices of energy and transport that are far above 1% we are effectively taking a pay cut.

Bernie Bosnyak (not verified)

Submitted on 3 August, 2017 - 10:44
As a Civil Servant (EO) with almost 40 years' service, I am appalled at these levels of pay. I have effectively had my pay frozen for almost 10 years whilst all living costs have spiralled upwards. As a woman born in 1959 my retirement is now much further away than I had expected, and my "gold-plated" pension is rapidly being devalued! To discover that the CEs receive even more that those actually running the country leaves me beyond incredulous! And to argue that their salaries reflect jobs dealing with "varied and complex issues" heaps derision on nurses, doctors, firefighters, police and servicemen who all have our lives in their hands, despite having stringent caps on their pay packets. This cannot be tolerated, and I salute Priti Patel for telling the truth. Let's see what the outcome is.

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