Doubling pay cap ‘would still leave civil servants £2,000 worse off by 2022’

As inflation rate hits 3%, TUC warns higher cap on civil service pay increases in line with offer to police officers would still mean a real-terms pay cut

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said the latest pay offer to prison and police officers was another real-terms cut. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

By Tamsin Rutter

17 Oct 2017

Civil servants could be nearly £2,000 worse off in real terms by 2022 even if the government allows the current 1% cap on pay increases to be doubled, an analysis has found.

The Trades Union Congress has calculated that a below-inflation pay rise in line with the 2% deal offered to police officers would still mean a cumulative loss over the next five years totalling £1,914 once the impact of inflation is taken into account.

Officials would face an annual real-terms loss of £453 in 2022 if pay did not keep up with the CPI measure of inflation, according to the TUC figures.

The Treasury has told the Senior Salaries Review Board that it can consider recommending pay rises for senior civil servants of more than 1% in 2018-19, but it is yet to commit any money to fund this.

The recently-announced 2% increase for police officers and the 1.7% boost for prison officers – the first two groups of public sector workers to be offered a pay rise that busts the 1% cap that has been in place since 2012 – are to be paid for from within existing budgets.


The figures were published ahead of a rally near Downing Street this evening, organised by the TUC to call on government to “scrap artificial restrictions on public sector pay”, find new money to fund a pay rise and recognise the loss of earnings of workers over the past seven years.

Pay restrictions in the public sector have continued despite the rising cost of living. UK inflation climbed to 3% in September, the highest it has been since 2012, it was announced today.

Police officers getting 2% annual pay rises could see a real-terms loss of £452 in 2022 and a cumulative loss of £1,911 in the next five years, according to the TUC analysis.

For prison officers receiving a 1.7% annual boost, the TUC’s projected real-terms loss in 2022 is £980, and the cumulative loss to 2022 is £3,527.

The TUC has based its calculations for civil servants on the salary of an executive officer working at the Department for Work and Pensions. The inflation figures have been taken from the OBR March 2017 forecast.

If civil servants were offered a 1.7% pay rise next year, in line with prison officers, they would be £874 worse off in real terms in the year 2022, and cumulatively £3,146 worse off over the next five years.

The TUC said the findings show that public sector workers will continue to experience a squeeze on their living standards.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said the latest offer to prison and police officers was another real-terms pay cut. “The government claims it recognises the sacrifice public sector workers have made. But it still won’t give them a fair pay rise.”

She added: “Public sector workers have kept services running in the face of huge cutbacks and job losses. The chancellor must use next month’s Budget to give them all the decent pay rise they have earned.

“This means announcing new funding. If the government raids already stretched departmental budgets it will be robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

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