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PCS calls for Treasury to loosen purse strings on 1% pay cap

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS), the biggest union for Civil Service staff, has joined calls for a new pay agreement for staff in Whitehall by stressing that lower-grade employees must also be represented in any deal.

Last week, the professional union the FDA – which represents senior civil servants – asked the Senior Salaries Review Board (SSRB) for more flexibility around the government’s 1% cap on pay rises, quoting a survey that said over three-quarters of staff wanted to leave the service.

Now the PCS has urged the government to end the pay lockdown to support staff at all levels as the UK faces its tricky negotiations to leave the European Union.

“We have opposed the pay freeze since its introduction in 2010,” a PCS spokesperson said. “It has been responsible for driving down living standards over the last six years and now average increases in the Civil Service lag behind the rest of the economy and other areas of the public sector.

“The Treasury has an opportunity with the forthcoming pay remit to loosen the purse strings, and we will be campaigning in the coming weeks and months to push for this.”

The PCS stressed that the lower grades of the Civil Service have been under particular pressure after enduring 110,000 job cuts since 2010. It is looking to enter talks with the FDA and other unions in order to discuss how to bring about the end of the pay freeze.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA, has slammed former chancellor George Osborne’s policy on public sector pay as he said that it has led to a demoralised workforce and left the Civil Service reliant on external contractors.

“This chancellor needs to take a more realistic position and heed the FDA’s call for real investment in the SCS [Senior Civil Service], not a never-ending series of temporary fixes dreamt up on the hoof that end up costing the public more than before the pay restraint began,” he said.

A survey submitted by the FDA to the SSRB revealed that two-thirds of civil servants thought their department did not have sufficient resources to achieve its objectives in the year ahead. Nearly half had difficulties with staff recruitment and over 50% had difficulties with retention.

In its submission the FDA also demanded that senior Civil Service policy be centralised to iron out anomalies between departments and an end to the capping of pay rises for internal promotions.

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