Scottish civil servants to be offered 2% pay rise this November

Boost comes after Nicola Sturgeon promised to lift public sector pay cap in Scotland from April 2018

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has officially pledged to lift the pay cap for public sector staff. Credit: David Anderson/Holyrood

By Tamsin Rutter

05 Oct 2017

Civil servants working for the Scottish Government are to be offered a minimum 2% pay rise this November while negotiations continue on the scale of Scotland’s planned 2018 pay cap lift, Civil Service World has been told.

While staff in Scotland are still subject to a 1% public sector pay cap until April next year, those earning less than £22,000 will receive a £400 pay boost and those on higher salaries will get a one-off 1% bonus. 

Prospect trade union said this means no one will get less than a 2% total increase in 2017-18.

The offer, which will be paid into November pay packets but backdated from August, comes after Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon officially committed to lifting the cap for Scottish public sector staff last month.


Pay increases have been limited to 1% a year since 2012 for Scottish public sector workers, matching a similar policy in place for staff in Whitehall. 

Following briefings from Westminster on the possibility of a pay cap lift, it was revealed last month that police officers will receive a 2% pay boost for 2017/18 – half of which is a one-off bonus – while prison officers will get an average 1.7% rise. These announcements led to criticism that the government was cherry-picking staff for cap-busting increases. 

The Treasury has now told public sector pay review bodies – including the Senior Salaries Review Board, which makes pay recommendations for the Senior Civil Service – that more flexibility on pay may be tolerated, particularly in areas of skills shortage.

Writing to update its members on the progress of pay negotiations with the Scottish Government, Prospect, which represents civil service specialists including engineers and scientists, said the offer “fell short of being acceptable” but it was not recommending a rejection of the offer. 

“Prospect believes that this offer fully spends the money available to Scottish Government for pay in the current budgetary period,” said the letter. 

It added that the union will be campaigning in the first quarter of 2018 to ensure the Scottish Government is held to its promise of ending public sector pay restraint – and that the date of the 2018 pay settlement for Scottish civil servants and staff in non-departmental government bodies had been brought forward from September to April.

It said: “As you will know the first minister publicly committed to ending pay restraint in the public sector [in 2018-19].

“However we had left her in no doubt that members face increases in their costs of living now and cannot wait until September 2018 before this is addressed.”

Richard Hardy, Prospect’s national secretary in Scotland, told CSW that Scottish civil servants had a better deal than their Westminster colleagues, and that alongside other trade unions Prospects was calling for an end to public sector pay restraint across the whole of the UK.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Constructive discussions took place between Scottish Government management and the recognised trade union representatives.

“Scottish Government management believes the offer represents the best outcome for staff and the organisation, using all available flexibilities within the scope of the 2017-18 public sector pay policy.”

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