HM Revenue and Customs has insisted that it is aware of the pay issues faced by its 60,000-plus workforce after Whitehall’s biggest union criticised the 2019-20 settlement due to be imposed on staff.
The deal will see staff receive rises of between 1.84% and 2.08% depending on whether they are at the bottom or the top end of their pay band. It is worth up to £1,410 for grade 6 employees based in the capital.
News that the deal will be imposed on staff from the end of next month, and be backdated to June 1 – which is the beginning of HMRC’s pay year – drew fire from the PCS union last week for being below the level of inflation and for not targeting the biggest rises at the lowest earners.
In direct response to PCS’ criticism and its call for the department to push HM Treasury for better resourcing, HMRC suggested it was already engaged in lobbying for boosted wages for its staff, many of whom are playing a key role in the nation’s Brexit preparations.
“We recognise the real concerns of our people on pay, that’s why we’re making the case for better pay in the future, working with our trade unions,” a spokesperson said.
“We’ve used the full flexibility available to us under the civil service pay guidance for this year, as other departments have across the civil service.”
The Treasury Pay Remit Guidance issued by the government in June indicated that civil service employers would be funded for a 1% increase in pay bill costs, but could increase pay bills by a further 1%, as long as this could be found from existing budgets.
Although it had called on HMRC to seek extra funding from the Treasury, PCS also criticised the distribution of the 2019-20 pay award, which it said should have been targeted at the lowest earners.
It said the HMRC package could have instead funded a flat-rate pay award of £500 for AA/AO grades and £550 for all others, with an underpin of 2% at AA-EO grades and an underpin of 1% for all other grades.
PCS said the move would have “delivered real progress for the very lowest paid”.
HMRC said it had chosen not to disproportionally target increases at sections of its workforce.
“Higher monetary increases for lower paid colleagues would inevitably have meant smaller increases for others,” the spokesperson said. “In our view, the fairest deal was to give everyone the same percentage increase.”
PCS said it would be convening members’ meetings on pay in September and later in the month would meet outgoing perm sec Sir Jon Thompson.
“We will press him and his successor for a different approach on pay – an approach that must include securing more funds from the Treasury,” it said.