SCS pay rise should be no higher than for rank-and-file civil servants, Cabinet Office says

Cabinet Office evidence to SSRB does not mention whether SCS officials should get £1,500 cost-of-living payment
Photo: Off The Roll/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

14 Jun 2023

Senior officials should not get a pay rise above the 4.5-5% on offer for rank-and-file civil servants, the Cabinet Office has said.

This year’s civil service pay remit remit guidance set a pay award of 4.5% for non-senior civil servants, rising to 5% for the lowest grades.

The headline figure for the SCS “should be no higher, on average, than that for delegated grades through the annual pay remit guidance”, the Cabinet Office said in its 2022-24 evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body.

The department has suggested that the SSRB should recommend a consolidated basic pay increase for all senior civil servants; increase pay band minimas for all SCS grades; and for departments to be given room to award additional consolidated increases to individuals, distributed based on "demonstration of increased capability and deepened expertise".

Unlike the last two years, this year the Cabinet Office is recommending a £2,000 increase to all SCS pay bands. In each of the last two years, the SCS3 pay band minima went up by £5,000.

Officials in delegated grades have also now been offered a £1,500 cost-of-living payment, following negotiations with unions and months of strikes over pay. The Cabinet Office did not mention in the evidence whether a similar non-consolidated payment should be awarded to senior officials.

The Cabinet Office said in its evidence: In past years, the SSRB has recommended a general pay uplift applied to all members of the SCS (unless they are underperforming) as a significant part of the pay award. In the current economic context, we agree that this is an important element of the SCS pay award.

“However, we believe that for 2023-24 there is again an opportunity to apply the pay award in a way that provides a meaningful general uplift for all eligible SCS while also addressing some of the most pressing issues within the SCS reward framework. These include increasing the band minima for all SCS grades and targeting movement for individuals lower down the pay range, who are demonstrating higher capability and deepened expertise.

“We are therefore recommending a similar approach to recent years (with the exception of the public sector pay pause year in 2020-21).”

The SSRB will consider the Cabinet Office’s evidence and then make recommendations to government on SCS pay, with ministers having the final say.

Last year, ministers rejected the body's recommendation for a 3% across-the-board increase for all senior officials, plus a further 0.5% to address pay anomalies and increase pay band minimums.

Instead, the government went with a 2% pay rise, with 1% on top for anomalies and minimas.

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