Highest paying Whitehall departments revealed

Senior civil service has biggest range of average salaries of any grade across Whitehall, with Treasury chiefs paid least


By Richard Johnstone

26 May 2017

An analysis by the Institute for Government has found that the Department for International Development has the highest average pay across Whitehall, followed by the former Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Transport.

According to the analysis by researcher Alice Lilly, the top five departments by median earnings in 2016 also include the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Cabinet Office. The lowest median earnings are at the Department for Work and Pensions, with HM Revenue and Customs and the Ministry of Defence also among the lowest payers.

Lilly’s analysis found that in 2016, the highest departmental average (DfID, £53,430) was more than double the average in the lowest department (DWP, £22,240).

According to the analysis, seven departments (DECC, DCMS, the Cabinet Office, the Department of Health, the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Ministry of Defence) saw average salaries fall from 2015 levels. The largest falls were at MoD and DH.

Average pay rates increased at 11 departments between the years, with the largest being at the Ministry of Justice and the Treasury.


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The Senior Civil Service contains the biggest range of average salaries between departments of any grade across government, with those in the Ministry of Justice the highest paid and those at Treasury the lowest paid. However, the Treasury had the highest proportion of staff earning over £80,000 a year (5.3%), while DCLG, DfID, and DECC were the ministries with the lowest proportion of those paid under £30,000.

Lilly also highlighted Cabinet Office data showing there were 405 civil servants and senior officials in departments, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies earning more than £150,000 a year as of September 2016. The largest number were at the Department for Transport, where there were 112 high earners. A majority of these worked at its arm's-length bodes Network Rail (48) and HS2 Ltd (42). There were 94 earners in the top pay bracket at the Department of Health and 63 at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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