Cabinet Office recommends 2% pay rise for SCS

Pay rises should be “affordable” and weighted towards the lower end of pay scales, Cabinet Office tells SSRB
Cabinet Office. Photo: Sgconlaw/CC BY-SA 3.0

By Tevye Markson

08 Apr 2022

Senior civil servants should get an average pay rise of 2% this year, the same as most civil servants are set to get, the Cabinet Office has said.

Pay rises for senior officials should be weighted towards the lower ends of pay bands, but should average out at no higher than the 2-3% offered for their more junior colleagues, the Cabinet Office has told the Senior Salary Review Body.

The SSRB will consider the Cabinet Office’s evidence, which also recommends raising the bottom end of SCS pay bands, and then make recommendations to government on SCS pay, with ministers having the final say.

The evidence sets out the government’s position that – like in 2020-21 – ”the headline figure for the SCS should be no higher, on average, than that for delegated grades through the annual pay remit guidance”.

Annual pay remit guidance published last week said departments could hand out average pay awards of 2% to civil servants below SCS level – topped up by a further 1% where they can successfully argue the extra bump will help with staff retention, productivity or other priorities.

The recommendation is in line with the 2021 Spending Review’s aim to “ensure fairness and the sustainability of the public finances, public sector earnings growth over the next three years should retain broad parity with the private sector and continue to be affordable”, the Cabinet Office said.

The government’s focus this year is to increase the minimum for all SCS grades and to improve pay for staff lower down the pay range who are demonstrating higher capability, the evidence said.

Therefore, the basic pay increase for all SCS would be allocated “proportionately higher for those in the lower pay range”.

“In past years, the SSRB has recommended a general pay uplift applied to all members of the SCS (unless they are underperforming) as a significant part of the pay award,” the Cabinet Office said.

“Our proposals would also look to achieve this to some extent, however this should be more aligned to our strategy to direct available funds towards pay progression and the rationalisation of the SCS pay ranges.”

Departments would be able to allocate bigger wage increases to senior officials who are currently underpaid and have shown they have increased their capability and expertise, under the proposals.

The Cabinet Office also wants to increase the pay band minimum for all three SCS bands.

This would see minimum pay rise by £2,000 for SCS1 (deputy directors) and SCS2 (directors), going up to £73,000 and £95,000 respectively.

For SCS3 (director generals), minimum pay would increase by £5,000 to £125,000, which the Cabinet Office says has already been used as a notional minimum salary as all DGs were due to move to that figure prior to the pay pause.

In last year’s evidence, the Cabinet Office did not propose a pay increases for civil servants for 2021-22 due to a pay freeze introduced in response to the economic pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, it did take steps towards reforming the SCS pay system, including piloting a new capability-based pay system where pay for senior officials will be determined using assessment frameworks focused on professional skills and leadership.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “We have submitted evidence to the independent Senior Salaries Review Body, setting out further detail on our proposed vision for the Senior Civil Servant pay framework.

“It’s important that we attract, retain and develop the very best senior talent for government, while ensuring pay remains affordable. We look forward to receiving the SSRB’s recommendations later this year.”

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