Over 90% of senior civil servants believe pay structures ‘not fit for purpose’

Stagnant wages are demoralising the Civil Service at the time when its expertise is most needed to deliver Brexit, professional union the FDA has warned.

In its submission to the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB), the FDA included the results of a survey which showed that 94.4% of its members believed the current pay structures were not fit for purpose, 91.9% were dissatisfied with the system and 93.3% believed the system was unfair.

To address these issues, the FDA urged the SSRB to recommend more flexibility around the 1% cap on pay awards, and abolish the salary cap for internal promotions.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA, said: “The strain of the pay freeze and staff reductions is taking its toll. The previous chancellor’s policy of public sector pay restraint has led to a demoralised workforce and a civil service now reliant on expensive contractors and salary premiums for new hires.

“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 being a costing the public more than before the pay restraint began.”

Penman warned that the low morale and pressure on resources would make it even harder for civil servants to deliver Brexit.

Of the survey respondents, two-thirds said 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.

Furthermore, almost three-quarters had seriously considered leaving the Civil Service in the past year, 54.6% thought their job was less well-paid than comparable positions in the public sector, and 89.2% thought they were less well-paid than in the private sector.

The FDA called on the SSRB to “make a strong recommendation about the need to ensure Civil Service organisations have the resources they need to meet the challenges of the years ahead and are not stretched to breaking point”. It also urged greater central control of pay to ensure better consistency and transparency between different bodies.

The news comes after Penman accused ministers of not defending the integrity of the Civil Service following attacks on Sir Ivan Rogers, the ambassador to the EU who resigned this week, by Iain Duncan Smith and Nigel Farage.

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