Union leaders have called for civil service pay structures to be reformed to ensure the government can recruit and retain staff through the cost-of-living crisis.
In a letter to Cabinet Office minister and Paymaster General Jeremy Quin, the general secretaries for civil service unions Prospect and the FDA said the pay review process for the civil service is “dysfunctional and broken”, and prevents individual employers from developing a strategic approach to their pay and reward.
In January the Treasury published its economic evidence to pay review bodies ahead of the 2023-24 pay round. It claimed that the public sector remuneration package was competitive and that pay review bodies should consider settlements in relation to those in the private sector, as well as the government’s plan to halve inflation by the end of 2023.
Civil service pay reform
However, Prospect and the FDA commissioned an independent economic analysis of the Treasury’s evidence from Incomes Data Research, which questioned some of the report’s claims.
Their letter says the analysis found the value of civil service pay should be addressed urgently to ensure it is able to attract and retain the right numbers of staff and support workers through the cost-of-living crisis.
The IDR also highlighted that the Treasury did not detail the impact of inflation on employees, which it felt was a “serious” omission, according to the letter. It also noted that inflation cannot be caused directly by public sector wage rises and there is no evidence that this can occur indirectly.
The letter from Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy and FDA general secretary Dave Penman calls for fundamental reform of civil service pay structures.
“For over a decade the government has continued with a policy of restraining the annual uplift to pay while freezing pay progression and this has had a devastating impact. We want to see a pay structure that rewards talent, knowledge and experience so that the civil service can recruit and retain skilled workers that can deliver our vital public services,” it says.
“The Treasury claims that ‘the public sector remuneration package remains competitive’, but this is not borne out by studies or by the fact that public sector employers are experiencing recruitment and retention issues.”
Last week the government recommended a 3.5% pay increase for public sector workers in England, which will now be considered by independent pay review bodies.
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