Government digital profession given licence to offer £45k a year extra for key senior roles

Pilot scheme will allow DDaT posts to tap into ‘pivotal role allowance’
Photo: PxHere

By Sam Trendall

04 May 2022

Government’s digital, data and technology profession is being given the chance to provide up to an extra £45,000 of annual remuneration for a variety of senior or highly skilled roles.

The pivotal role allowance (PRA) programme was introduced in 2013 with the aim of enabling departments to attract and retain the best candidates for certain senior civil service positions – particularly roles requiring high levels of in-demand expertise or those at the head of major projects.

The scheme allows the annual pay packets of leading candidates to be given a boost of between £10,000 and £30,000 – with the stipulation that the overall amount of money awarded via PRA does not constitute more than 0.5% of the overall SCS pay bill.

A new pilot scheme specifically for the DDaT profession will allow departments to offer even bigger additional pay increases in support of appointing people to one of 10 key roles.

An annual update recently submitted by the Cabinet Office to government’s independent Senior Salaries Review Body revealed that the dedicated digital PRA programme, which was agreed in September, will cover roles in the SCS 1 and 2 pay grades – the salaries for which normally range from £71,000 to £162,500.

People hired to the positions included in the pilot scheme could take home an extra £45,000 a year – albeit subject to meeting certain targets.

“Bespoke PRA-focussed remuneration packages [will] support the recruitment and retention of highly skilled SCS1/2 digital, data and technology specialists,” the Cabinet Office said in its SSRB submission. “This will help address high turnover in the digital profession and reliance on contingent labour [and] contractors to fill specialist SCS DDaT posts, specifically chief architects, chief technology officers, chief data officers and chief information security officers. Base pay will be maintained at consistent levels for qualifying roles, with higher value PRAs – up to £35K per annum for SCS1s and up to £45K for SCS2s – linked to achievement of key milestones.”

Elsewhere in its submission to the salary-guidance unit, the Cabinet Office revealed that it is working with the Central Digital and Data Office to create formal mechanisms to test the digital and data expertise of senior officials outside the DDaT profession – who will increasingly be required to possess tech know-how.

“As part of commitment to build SCS skills and capability… we are developing a Digital and Data Criterion which sets the standard for assessing the digital capability and confidence non-DDaT SCS1 and 2 will be expected to demonstrate,” it said. “A draft criterion was… [created] and consultation is underway around the initial criteria. A pilot will commence in early 2022 to test the criteria. Training to support development of the necessary capability is also being scoped, to support the assessment mechanism.”

The revelation of the new assessment process came shortly after government’s head of emerging talent Sonia Pawson told the recent PublicTechnology Live event that civil servants will soon not be able to progress to senior roles without key digital and data skills.

“What we realise is that, in time you won't be able to progress to be a senior civil servant without experience and expertise, for example, in using big data for policy or operational purposes, or in leading a digital project,” she said.

Sam Trendall is editor of CSW sister title PublicTechnology, where this story first appeared

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