SCS will only get 2% pay increase as government rejects SSRB recommendation

Senior Salaries Review Board had recommended a 3% increase for senior civil servants
Pay will only go up by 2% for SCS this year. Photo: Adobe Stock

By Tevye Markson

19 Jul 2022

The government has rejected recommendations from the Senior Salaries Review Body to increase senior civil servants’ pay by 3% this year, despite inflation hitting 9% in May.

Instead, the government will increase SCS pay by 2% for almost all senior civil servants.

The SSRB had recommended the government increase SCS pay by 3.5% overall, including an across-the-board increase for all senior officials of 3% from 1 April 2022 and a further 0.5% to address pay anomalies and increase pay band minimums.

The government has accepted the pay band minimum increase recommendation, which will go up as follows:

  • SCS pay band 1: £71,000 to £73,000
  • SCS pay band 2: £93,000 to £95,000
  • SCS pay band 3: £120,000 to £125,000

It has also increased the pot for tackling anomalies and raising the minimums from 0.5% to 1%.

But it has only chosen to award a 2% across-the-board rise rather than the 3% recommended by the SSRB, which said in its report that the across-the-board increase was the priority.

Cabinet Office ministers said today that the decision aimed to “strike a careful balance between recognising the vital importance of public sector workers, whilst delivering value for the taxpayer, not increasing the country’s debt further, and being careful not to drive even higher prices in the future”.

The Cabinet Office said in its evidence to the SSRB in April that it wanted to focus on increasing the minimum for all SCS grades and improving pay for staff lower down the pay range who are demonstrating higher capability.

For non-senior civil servants, the government told departments in March they could give an average increase pay award of 2% this year, topped up by a further 1% where they can successfully argue the extra bump will help with staff retention, productivity or other priorities.

The Cabinet Office then said ”the headline figure for the SCS should be no higher, on average, than that for delegated grades through the annual pay remit guidance”.

There was no pay rise for civil servants in 2021-22 due to a pay freeze introduced in response to the economic pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government received the SSRB 2022 report on 28 June and published it in parliament and on this afternoon.

The SSRB said in the report that the SCS does not have significant recruitment and retention difficulties but it “remains concerned about whether the SCS is able to attract and retain leaders of the right calibre”.

It also criticises the lack of strategic vision on the purpose, size and composition of the SCS, the slow implementation of pay progression reform and the delay in implementing the new performance management framework.

The report also stressed the need for the government to have a more strategic approach to reward and the importance of focusing on outcomes. It says the government “has endorsed this approach but has done little to translate its support into concrete action”.

Today's decision was announced in a written ministerial statement by Cabinet Office ministers Heather Wheeler and Nicholas True laid before the House of Commons and Lords today.

They said: “The government values the independent expertise and insight of the SSRB and takes on board the advice and principles in relation to the government’s recommendations.

“The government partially accepts the SSRB’s recommendations for 2022. In reaching this decision, the government has carefully considered the need to maintain an effective senior civil service, affordability and fairness between senior pay and the delegated pay award of 3% set out in the pay remit guidance.”

The ministers added: “Public sector workers benefit from some of the most generous pensions available."

“Sustained higher levels of inflation would have a far bigger impact on people’s real incomes in the long run than the proportionate and balanced pay increase set out,” they added.

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