Unions seek Treasury meeting after Cabinet Office refuses to withdraw civil service pay plan

Written by Richard Johnstone on 11 July 2018 in News

David Lidington has apologised for lack of consultation ahead of pay guidance publication, but document remains in place

HM Treasury Photo: PA

Civil service union chiefs have today called for an urgent meeting with Treasury minister Liz Truss after the Cabinet Office turned down a joint demand calling for pay guidance that will limit civil service increases to an average of 1%-1.5% to be withdrawn.

In a rare united position across the sector, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, Prospect chief Mike Clancy and FDA boss Dave Penman last month called for the Treasury pay guidance for civil servants to be withdrawn. The guidance told departments to limit average pay awards for government workers in 2018-19 to a range of 1%-1.5%, in what the government said was an end to the 1% cap on increases in place since 2012, but which represents a lower settlement than many other parts of the public sector.

The union chiefs said that a fresh consultation was needed due to what they describe as a “shambolic and contemptable process”, but a statement issued today confirms Cabinet Office minister David Lidington and implementation minister Oliver Dowden have refused to withdraw the remit to departments.


Serwotka, Clancy and Penman said that Lidington had apologised for the failings in the consultation, but had refused to withdraw the guidance or commit to a meaningful process for 2018.

“As a result, we have now written to Elizabeth Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury and the minister responsible at the Treasury for the pay guidance, requesting an urgent meeting,” they said.

The pay policy means that “the civil service is falling significantly behind the rest of the public sector on pay outcomes, but also on the commitment from employers to engage meaningfully with the unions”, they state.

“It is evident that those two issues are related. As general secretaries, we have agreed to continue working as closely as possible on these issues for the common good of our members," the statement said. "Whilst each union will clearly have to determine their own objectives and strategy for delivering them, we are committed to an honest and open dialogue to explore where a united approach can be achieved.”

The 1% cap on public sector annual pay rises has been in place since 2012, following a two-year freeze, though staff in sectors such as health, policing and local government, as well as civil servants working for the Scottish Government, have since been offered cap-busting raises. With the exception of the NHS pay deal, which is worth 6.5% over three years, most pay rises announced so far have been funded from within existing budgets.

Responding to the unions' statement, a government spokesperson said: "Civil servants do an outstanding job supporting the delivery of public services right across the country. This year's pay guidance provides greater flexibility for civil service pay, striking a balance between rewarding our hard working staff while ensuring good value for the taxpayer.”

About the author

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

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