Civil servants offered £1,500 cost-of-living payment to break strikes deadlock

Lump sum offered “in recognition of the pressures” faced by officials last year, Cabinet Office says
Jeremy Quin made the pay offer to unions this morning. Photo: Richard Lincoln/Alamy Live News

Ministers have put forward an offer of a £1,500 one-off payment for civil servants that they hope will put an end to long-running industrial action over pay.

Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin made the offer this morning in a meeting with the heads of the PCS, FDA and Prospect unions “in recognition of the pressures” faced by staff in 2022-23.

The cost-of-living payment would be made to all officials below senior civil service level as long as they were in post on 31 March 2023 and will still be in on the date of payment.

The Cabinet Office has yet to publish guidance on SCS pay, which is informed by the recommendations of the Senior Salaries Review Body.

The deal also includes a moratorium on any changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme until 2025 and a commitment to avoiding compulsory redundancies wherever possible. The Cabinet Office has also committed to making the introduction of capability-based pay for the SCS a ministerial priority.

The FDA, which represents managers, has suspended its ballot on industrial action, which it had placed on pause last week after ministers agreed to “meaningful talks” on pay and conditions. The strike had been due to open on 30 May.

Welcoming the deal, general secretary Dave Penman said: “The decision to ballot for national industrial action over pay was taken by the FDA for the first time in 40 years. It was intended to send a clear message to the government that enough was enough, as they had failed to demonstrate that they valued the civil service equally with the rest of the public sector.”

PCS and Prospect, which have both been staging industrial action, said they would consider the offer, which will see the 2023-24 remit guidance amended.

As CSW reported last month, a one-off payment was on the table in earlier negotiations between the Cabinet Office and unions over this year's pay remit guidance, but “fell apart” in the 24 hours before the guidance was published.

For a civil servant earning £30,000, the lump sum would equate to a 5% bonus, on top of the average 2-3% pay rise set out in last year’s pay remit guidance. Unions did not agree to the 2022-23 pay offer and have been urging the government to negotiate the deal ever since it was published last spring.

Part-time staff will receive a proportion of the bonus on a pro-rata basis.

The deal would not change the 4.5% – rising to 5% for the lowest-paid officials – on offer for 2023-24, which was announced in April.

PCS’s executive committee will meet on 5 June to scrutinise the details of the offer, before being in touch with its members.

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said the union would consult its public service reps on the substance of the offer, "which in principle addresses the three issues at the heart of this dispute”.

“Our members in the civil service play a critical role in delivering public services across the country and I want to thank them for their commitment and determination. This payment will help to address the cost-of-living crisis they have been facing,” he said.

“For too long they have been at the back of the queue when it comes to public sector pay, and throughout this dispute we have been fighting for a deal comparable with that in the rest of the public sector.

“The industrial action taken by union members has been critical in getting to this point.”

Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin said: "We are determined that civil servants are rewarded fairly for the vital work they do across the country, in delivering the government’s agenda and providing services to the general public.

"I am pleased with the constructive engagement we have had with civil service trade unions, and to be announcing that departments will be allowed to make a £1,500 payment to every member of staff at grade 6 and below.

"This is both fair to the taxpayer and a recognition of the financial pressures civil servants have faced over the last year."

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