Whitehall’s biggest union has called on chancellor Sajid Javid to use next week’s Spending Review to ease the pay restraint that civil servants have been subjected to since 2010 as part of his 2020-21 budget allocations for departments.
The PCS also urged Javid – who has only been in post for just over a month – to implement a package of pensions reforms recommended by the Civil Service Pension Scheme Advisory Board and pause office closure and staff reduction programmes across government.
It said the moratorium should allow time for a review of proper staffing levels, and for the consideration of ways the government could invest in departments that raised funds for the nation – such as HM Revenue & Customs.
Its asks from the 12-month funding allocation – due to be announced by Javid on Wednesday – to also include reassurances that detrimental changes to the 2010 Civil Service Compensation Scheme will not be introduced.
The union said its key demands had already been submitted to the Cabinet Office by general secretary Mark Serwotka, despite the review announcement being “rushed” forward.
“We are seeking to persuade the government that a more coherent, joined-up strategy for civil service pay in the 21st century is both necessary and desirable,” it said.
“PCS has detailed policy and proposals in this area and we stand ready to table them for negotiation. Our proposals tackle the problem of unjustified pay disparities. We are also calling for the government to facilitate national collective bargaining on pay.”
Measures to end the public-sector pay freeze over the last few years – most recently a reward package offered by Theresa May towards the end of her time as prime minister – have largely excluded civil servants because of departmental spending limits.
On pensions reform, PCS said it wanted the government to enact the recommendations of the Civil Service Pension Scheme Advisory Board for an agreed package of improvements which would see members’ monthly contributions reduce by at least 2%.
“We want the government to ensure that sufficient resources are available to all departments to enable them to cover the costs of remedying the cost cap breach, and to enable the eradication of any age discriminatory provisions within existing schemes,” the union said.
The proposed changes were not implemented following a Court of Appeal decision in December that found transitional protections offered to some scheme members could have a £4bn a year impact on public-sector pension finances.
In relation to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme, the PCS said it wanted to make sure that any changes introduced were no less favourable than those currently in use. Departments agreeing redundancy packages and other exit deals currently use the 2010 terms after the High Court ruled that less-favourable 2016 terms had been introduced illegally by the Cabinet Office.
Unions have been in discussion with the Cabinet Office over the next update, which the department has pledged will not be introduced before the end of this year.
PCS added that a guarantee that no workers covered by the CSCS would be made compulsorily redundant would be an acceptable alternative.
“We are also calling upon the government to put a moratorium on any further office closures and job cuts across the civil service and its related areas pending negotiations with the unions on what a properly staffed service should look like,” it said.
“Investment is needed in revenue-raising departments to increase yield to improve the public finances.”
PCS’s final ask is for the government to “cease and reverse privatisation and outsourcing across the civil service and its related areas”.