Government continues to put capability of the civil service at risk by failing to address pay gap, says FDA

12 March 2015
For immediate release

As the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) wrestles with the impossibility of a proper pay reform for the senior civil service (SCS), Government again glosses over the glaring flaws in their pay policy leaving the future civil service to pick up the pieces.

The FDA welcomes the steps taken by the SSRB to impress upon the Government the need for a full scale overhaul of the SCS pay system. However the Government's unnecessary refusal to ensure departments fully utilise the performance related pay pot, despite the SSRB recommendation, will be seen as petty and a further attack on the morale of those being asked to deliver more with fewer resources than ever before.

Commenting on the Government's response to the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) recommendations, FDA General Secretary, Dave Penman said:

"Any employer who knowingly and continually pays lower increases to its senior staff than to its other employees would be seen as irresponsible yet, year on year the Government does exactly that with the SCS. While the civil service seeks to recruit and retain talented and ambitious individuals, the Government imposes a pay policy that succeeds only to undermine that objective. The SCS have seen cuts to their real pay and reward package of around a quarter over the last Parliament and Government's own evidence to the SSRB recognises that pay is an increasing problem in the morale and motivation of senior civil servants.

"But while the gender pay gap in the SCS worsens, morale falls and working hours increase, the Government balks at an extremely moderate recommendation from the SSRB: that departments should seek to exhaust the pay pot available to them to reward staff. The next Government will have to address the consequences of a further year of a flawed system that puts at risk the capability of the civil service to deliver."

Notes for editors
1. The FDA is the trade union for the UK's senior public servants and professionals. FDA membership includes more than 18,000 senior civil servants, Government policy advisors, prosecutors, school inspectors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors, and other professionals work across Government and the NHS.

2. The FDA can be described as "the senior public servants' union" and should be referred to simply as "the FDA".

3. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union and at www.fda.org.uk.

4. SSRB Recommendations / Government response / FDA comment

Recommendation 1:

We recommend that the minima be increased from 1 April 2015 to: £64,000 for Pay Band 1, £86,000 for Pay Band 2 and £105,000 for Pay Band 3.

Government response:
The Government has accepted in part the recommendation on raising minimum salaries. The Government accepts the increase in minima for Pay Bands 2 and 3. It does not, however, accept the proposal to prescribe a £2,000 increase in the minimum salary for Pay Band 1 because it does not give departments the flexibility they have asked for to enable them to target the resources available. 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.

FDA Comment:
We are particularly surprised, not just that Government has rejected the SSRB recommendation on increasing the Band 1 minimum, but that they also seem to have shied away from their own original proposal to increase it to £63,000.

Recommendation 2: 

We recommend that departments use 0.93 per cent of the paybill for individual pay repositioning and general awards between 0 and 9 per cent that take account of performance, job weight and challenge of role other than for those in the bottom 10 per cent of the performance distribution.

Government response:
The Government has accepted in full the Pay Review Body's recommendation on a flexible framework for base pay awards that will enable departments to target the resources available to meet their own business needs.

FDA Comment:
We repeat our call for Government to probably assess the impact this approach has on pay disparities between departments.

Recommendation 3: 

We recommend that departments use the whole available budget for non-consolidated awards to the top 25 per cent of performers and use the flexibility provided to them to reward good performance in a timely fashion, as well as for base pay repositioning with up to 0.5 per cent of the SCS paybill on an exceptional basis to address pay anomalies.

Government response:
The Government has also accepted in part the recommendation on the use of non-consolidated performance related pay. The Government has accepted the recommendation that gives departments some additional flexibility to convert up to 0.5 per cent of the non-consolidated performance pay pot for targeted salary re-positioning. It does not however support the recommendation that would require departments to spend all of their non-consolidated performance related pay pot. Again this does not provide the flexibility that departments have requested to meet their own business needs.

FDA Comment:
None of the evidence put forward by Government or in any other evidence outlined in the SSRB's report suggests that any department has more money available for pay and reward than it needs. The FDA continues to believe that as a result it is imperative that departments actually utilise the pay pot they have available.

Recommendation 4: 

We recommend that the Cabinet Office continues to ensure that departments carry out exit interviews with a view to full coverage.

Government response:
The Government has also accepted the recommendation to continue to mandate a more structured approach to exit questionnaires so departments are able to effectively capture reasons for leaving.

FDA Comment:
The lack of evidence gathered from exit interviews following last year's accepted recommendation that such interviews be held is astounding. We strongly support better enforcement of this provision and proper analysis of the information produced.

 Recommendation 5: 

We recommend that the minima of the Permanent Secretary Tiers each be increased by £1,500, to £143,500 for Tier 3, £161,500 for Tier 2 and £181,500 for Tier 1.

Government response:
Ministers will consider the Pay Review Body's recommendations for raising the minima of the Permanent Secretary pay tiers taking account of the views of the Permanent Secretary Remuneration Committee as part of its consideration of the 2015/16 pay award for Permanent Secretaries.

FDA Comment:
The FDA notes that the Government's own evidence demonstrated how far away from the comparable market pay for these roles these salaries remain.

5. Useful Links:

FDA/Prospect written evidence

FDA supplementary evidence

Government evidence

Today's ministerial statement

SSRB report

6. For further information contact:

· Naomi Cooke, Assistant General Secretary, tel: 020 7401 5555 or 07718110590.

· Katie Lazell, Communications Officer, tel: 020 7401 5589 or 07939257985.