The union representing senior civil servants has accused allies of international development secretary Priti Patel of “peddling myths” after sources close to the minister said there was a need to further restrain the pay of top officials.
Responding to a source close to Patel who told the Telegraph that civil service salaries “are too high and way out of line with public opinion”, FDA general secretary Dave Penman said the allegation was “peddling myths” on pay.
“This latest misrepresentation of public sector pay from ‘sources close to’ the international development secretary demonstrates a blatant disregard for the government’s own research,” he said.
“The source peddles tired myths about public sector perks and claims that pay is ‘out of step with many other comparable external roles’ – despite the government’s figures showing that directors general earn 62% less than their private sector counterparts.”
Penman said that, as a result of the government’s pay restraint, the take-home pay of senior civil servants had fallen by 23% in real terms since 2010. The Senior Salaries Review Body that recommends pay increases for senior Whitehall roles has warned that the continuing 1% pay cap was increasing recruitment and retention problems.
It was an “easy option” to brief against senior civil servants, who cannot answer back, he said.
“As for the dismissive claim that civil servants can afford to take a pay cut because they are not going to ‘walk into better paid jobs in the real world’, the government’s own analysis shows that many of them are now choosing to do just that,” Penman added. “More than half of all senior civil servants who quit last year cited pay as a significant reason for their exit.”
The source close to Patel told the Telegraph she did not support senior level pay increases.
“The Cabinet Office are crazy and wrong on this stuff,” the paper quoted them as saying. “Salaries are too high and way out of line with public opinion.
“Director generals’ top pay and bonuses come on top of their enormous pension pots all of which are unmatched in the private sector and outside of the civil service.
"The Cabinet Office needs to reform, and grip senior pay levels as the levels they have set are wrong and out of step with many other comparable external roles."