'Singled out': Unions slam plans to exclude civil service from inflation-busting pay bump

Public sector pay rises set to outstrip 2% rise for civil servants revealed last month

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Civil service trade unions have panned above-inflation pay rises for public-sector workers that exclude civil servants amount to a snub that demonstrates government has "not seen fit to recognise the hard work of the civil service" amid extraordinary pressure in the run up to Brexit.

Around two million police officers, teachers, NHS staff and members of the Armed Forces will see their pay go up in one of Theresa May's last acts as prime minister, The Times reported.

However, the cash will need to be found from existing Whitehall budgets, meaning savings will be required elsewhere to pay for it.


According to The Times, police officers will receive a 2.5% rise, while soldiers will see their pay go up by 2.9%. Teachers and other school staff are in line for a 2.75% hike, dentists and NHS consultants will get a 2.5% rise, all above the 1.9% consumer prices index measure of inflation.

However the measure, which the prime minister is expected to confirm shortly before she leaves No.10 for the last time next Wednesday, is unlikely to include any extra cash for civil servants.

Officials are in line for an average 2% pay rise this year, according to Cabinet Office guidance published last month. The pay remit guidance gave departments the flexibility to award civil servants an average 1% pay rise on top of the average 1% budgeted for in the current Spending Review period, and The Times reports that senior civil servants' salaries will also go up by 2%.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said the announcement had "added fuel to the fire" as the union ballots its members for strike action over pay.

“It is outrageous that the vast majority of civil servants  who do some of the most important jobs in society, are once again being left behind on public sector pay," he said. He noted that existing departmental budgets have only set aside a 1% pay rise for many civil servants including those working in job centres, tax offices and the border force – although many agencies will follow the Cabinet Office guidance to top up this increase to 2%.

Serwotka said these public servants would "feel enraged that the government is refusing to reward its own staff properly".

And Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham said there had “never been a government in peacetime so reliant on the hard work and professionalism of the civil service and the coming months will prove even more challenging.

“Against that backdrop, it is astounding that the prime minister has not seen fit to recognise the hard work of the civil service, which has worked so hard and diligently to support the government."

Graham said the civil service had been "singled out for the harshest of treatment amongst public sector workers" while pay in the wider economy rose by 3.6%.

FDA assistant general secretary Lucille Thirlby said the figures showed that teachers, police officers and NHS consultants "clearly have their champions in the cabinet", but that civil servants had "once again been given a consolation prize".

"We have a question for [chief secretary to the Treasury] Liz Truss and [Cabinet Office minister] David Lidington: why does the government value civil servants less than the rest of the public sector?"

She added: "Civil servants need their employers and the government to stop treating them as the poor relation of the public sector; to respect the real-terms loss of wages; and to implement decent pay increases across the civil service."

Commenting on the figures published in The Times, Jonathan Cribb, a senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, told the newspaper: "These public sector pay rises are higher than last year’s and considerably higher than the 1% for many years before that.

"It is the highest nominal pay increase since the coalition. But these increases are still slower than pay rises that are happening on average in the private sector. With the partial exception of schools, there seems to be no new money to fund these pay rises, meaning savings will have to be made elsewhere."

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