Scottish civil servants offered 4% rise in ‘departure from austerity pay’

Pay deal in Scotland follows “sustained cross-union campaign”, with talks ongoing with Whitehall

Finance secretary Derek MacKay, who announced reforms to public sector pay during his Budget, with first minister Nicola Sturgeon. Credit: John Linton/PA

By Tamsin.Rutter

03 May 2018

The Scottish Government has offered civil servants a pay rise of at least 4% for the “vast majority of staff” for 2018-19.

The trade unions involved in negotiating the deal have recommended members accept the offer, and lauded it as a “clear break from the austerity agenda”.

The pay deal for Scottish civil servants comes as PCS, the biggest civil service union, seeks authorisation to ballot its members on strike action over pay.

Discussions on civil service pay between the Cabinet Office and trade unions in Westminster are ongoing.


The increase in Scotland follows significant changes made to public sector pay policy by the cabinet secretary for finance and the constitution, Derek Mackay, a Scottish National Party politician, in the Budget last year.

Most staff will get at least a 4% rise.

Public servants throughout the UK have been subject to a 1% cap on annual pay increases since 2012, which followed a two-year pay freeze. According to PCS, the value of average pay in the public sector has fallen by up to 9% against inflation over this time.

The government has indicated that it will now lift the cap, and has offered a 2% rise for police officers and 1.7% for prison officers in 2017-18, both to be paid for within existing budgets, and 6.5% over three years for NHS staff.

No new money has been provided to government departments to fund a pay rise – and PCS said it would ballot members after the Cabinet Office rejected its call for a 5% increase for officials.

PCS, alongside the FDA, the union for senior civil servants, Prospect, which represents professionals and specialist workers in government, and the POA, a union for prison workers, said the Scottish Government deal was a result of “a sustained cross-union campaign”.

Allan Sampson, FDA national officer for Scotland, said lifting the pay cap was “long overdue” and represented “a first step towards addressing years of pay erosion”.

He added: “Our members in Scottish Government carry out challenging and vital work for the people of Scotland and it is only right they should be rewarded appropriately. This pay offer comes as a result of constructive dialogue between trade unions, ministers and Scottish Government officials and sets the standard for future engagement.”

PCS national officer Lynn Henderson said it was a “welcome departure from the years of austerity pay” but stressed that there were challenges still to come on pay.

“If it proves one thing, this offer shows the power of being in a union. It’s only through collective strength that we’ve been able to get to this point,” she added.

“Now we’re asking members to decide whether it’s enough for them. Mr Mackay said that this year’s pay policy would be part of a ‘journey’. The next step in that journey can’t come quick enough, because whilst a minimum of 4% is good this year, it doesn’t come close to fixing the damage caused by nearly a decade of pay cuts.”

Prospect’s national secretary for Scotland Richard Hardy said: “This pay offer represents a clear break with the austerity agenda. It’s a tribute to the strength of conviction and campaigning by all our members across the Scottish Government.”

He thanked Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Mackay for engaging with the unions on pay and taking a “pragmatic approach” to implementing changes to public sector pay policy.

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