The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government saw its total staffing costs increase by 22% to £251.6m in 2018-19, the department’s annual report has revealed.
The move came against a rise in full-time equivalent headcount of more than 700 across the core department, agencies and designated bodies the report said.
Quarterly staffing updates throughout the year detailed a steady growth in headcount at MHCLG, which bosses attributed to its reaction to 2017’s Grenfell Tower tragedy, Brexit preparations, and work on the government’s housing drive. The latter seeks to increase new-home delivery to the 300,000-a-year mark by the mid 2020s.
But the just-published annual report lays bare the full extent of the department’s growth and the financial impact. It says the department’s total staff costs rose from £205.1m in 2017-18 to £251.6m in the year to the end of March.
Permanently-employed staff counted for £238.1m of that total, with others – such as temporary staff – costing £12.9m and the price tag of a handful of ministers and special advisers put at £659,000.
MHCLG’s core headcount rose from 1,610 in 2017-18 to 2,021 in the last year – all but around 380 of whom were permanent staff. Staff numbers at MHCLG’s agencies rose from 610 last year to 651 in 2018-19, while the number of workers at designated bodies increased from 1,138 to 1,395.
In her introduction to the report, perm sec Melanie Dawes said 2018-19 has been “another significant year” for the department with preparations for a no-deal Brexit and post-Grenfell work.
“Once again I have been grateful for the dedication and resilience of civil servants across the department as they responded to a fast-moving situation, with prolonged periods of uncertainly,” she said.
“Brexit has also been a catalyst for deeper engagement with local government, and has been a further reminder of the vital role of councils in leading their communities.
“The department has recruited many new staff in the past year, concluding the expansion that was required in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, and with our additional responsibilities on housing.”
Dawes said she was also “very pleased” with MHCLG’s Civil Service People Survey results.
“With engagement at 66%, the department has for the first time joined the group of top performers across the civil service,” she said.
“Staff rated us the most inclusive and fair department in Whitehall, with very strong scores for our managers. representing major areas of expanded activity.”
The annual report also underscored MHCLG’s positive gender-balance within its top leadership team. More than 80% of the executive are women, and more than half of the department’s Senior Civil Servants and general workforce are women. Only the ministerial team – appointed by prime minister Theresa May – reflected a male-heavy balance: a more than 80:20 ratio.
Senior executive salary details revealed Dawes received basic pay bracketed at £165-170,000 in the year to April, up from £160-165,000 the year before. Dawes also received a bonus bracketed at £15-20,000 in 2018-19 and “other benefits” valued at £25,000 but no pension benefits.
Bonuses are usually awarded in respect of the previous year’s work. Dawes did not receive a bonus in 2017-18.