Civil service pay growing three times slower than private sector

Latest ONS data shows UK weekly earnings fell by 0.5% in real terms in the 12 months to June 2017

Trade unions have renewed calls for an end to the public sector pay cap. Credit: Fotolia ?

By Tamsin Rutter

16 Aug 2017

Public sector pay grew by 1.1% in June 2017 – a growth rate which is three times lower than that of the private sector’s 3.1%.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics on average weekly earnings, wages increased by 2.8% compared to May across the whole UK economy, with private sector earnings growing much more rapidly.

The sluggish rate of pay growth in the public sector, when compared with the private sector, is a trend that has been consistent over the past 12 months. Public sector pay was frozen for two years in 2010 and has been capped at 1% since 2012, although the overall figure is over the cap as it includes bonuses and any payment in arrears.

The ONS data shows that public sector earnings rose by 1.3% over the three months to June, while private sector pay saw a 2.2% boost.


The estimates also show that, once inflation is taken into account, average weekly earnings across the UK workforce fell by 0.5% in real terms in the 12 months to June 2017.

Responding to the latest figures, Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services trade union, called for an end to the public sector pay cap.

“Theresa May’s government has no mandate to continue with the pay cap and, without the fig leaf of a review body to hide behind for the civil service, ministers can and must act immediately to increase the wages of their own workforce," he said.

In its annual report published in July, the Senior Salaries Review Body advised Whitehall to maintain maximum pay increases at 1%, despite recognising the risk of a rapid deterioration in recruitment and retention problems. 

There is no pay review body for civil servants in lower grades, where departments follow a pay policy set each year by the Treasury, and increases are also currently limited to 1%.

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