David Cameron has rejected a call for the minimum amount senior civil servants can be paid to rise by £2,000.
The Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB), which provides independent advice to government on the pay levels needed to recruit and retain senior public sector staff, published its latest report today. It recommended that the minimum salary for members of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) on Pay Band 1 be increased to £64,000 on April 1.
But in a written response published alongside the SSRB's findings, David Cameron confirmed that the government would not be backing that recommendation.
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He said that while ministers accepted the SSRB's minimum salary recommendations for Pay Bands 2 and 3, which will rise to £86,000 and £105,000 respectively, prescribing a £2,000 rise for Pay Band 1 would not "give departments the flexibility they have asked for" to properly target resources.
"Nevertheless, departments will be encouraged to continue raising the Pay Band 1 minimum as much as possible so the award is targeted at those lowest in the range and to address overlaps with delegated grades," the prime minister added. The Cabinet Office later confirmed to the FDA union that the minimum Pay Band 1 salary would rise by £1,000.
In its report, the pay review body said it believed the government needed to do "as much as possible" to raise the pay band minima "in order to address the overlap with non-SCS grades" as well as to keep morale high and "address any gender disparities".
But Cameron argued that the overall package for 2015/16 struck "the right balance between necessary pay restraint and the need to recruit and retain people of the right calibre".
In a joint submission to the pay review, the Prospect and FDA unions questioned last year's decision to grant departments the flexibility to determine whether and how to award pay rises.
"Pay delegation has clearly hampered efforts to provide opportunities for the development of specialists across the Civil Service," the unions said.
"There are clear disincentives for those at the top of Civil Service pay bands progressing to the SCS. Promotion is often not attractive because additional responsibilities do not lead to a significant improvement in pay and conditions."
Perm secs call
The pay review body also called for the minimum salary of each of the three tiers of permanent secretary to be increased by £1,500. That would take pay at Tier 3 to £143,500, while it would rise to £161,500 for Tier 2 perm secs and £181,500 for those at Tier 1.
Cameron said ministers would now consider that proposal alongside the views of the separate Permanent Secretaries' Remuneration Committee.
Note: This article was amended on March 13 to include the latest information on the £1,000 rise in Pay Band 1.