Civil-service pay reforms could allow Whitehall chiefs to put a premium on tech skills

Cabinet Office publishes document outlining plans to allow higher pay scales for ‘market-facing’ professions

Whitehall technology professionals may be able to earn more in a new pay structure that will put a premium on civil servants working in “market-facing” sectors.

The Cabinet Office’s submission to the government’s senior salaries review body provides details on plans to reform the pay framework for the Senior Civil Service (SCS). The proposed changes would base salaries on professional groupings, reward “high-performing” officials, and encourage people to stay in their jobs longer.

The new structure will be based on three key principles: making pay rates consistent for professional groupings over time; greater rewards for high performers and those who build skills in specific roles; and clearer rules on how people can move around the SCS pay system.

New groups are to be created as part of the pay plan. Group A would cover the majority of civil service professions. In this group deputy directors will earn between £70,000 and £95,000, while directors while take home £92,000 to £130,000.

Group B will cover certain “market-facing” professions, which will be eligible for higher “guideline” pay ranges.

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Previous government pay reviews have indicated such roles would include accountancy, IT, legal and audit, and the Cabinet Office stated that the areas covered would be confirmed in 2019-20, as will salary ranges for director and deputy director roles. The submission stated these professions could be given pay scales similar to the better terms offered to senior commercial specialists following the creation of the Government Commercial Organisation.

Another scale would exist for Group C, which the review said would apply to niche, specialist roles, particular to just one or a few departments. Such positions could include roles in medicine, inspectors of education and tax professionals, according to the Cabinet Office’s submission. Again, director and deputy pay scales are yet to be confirmed.

Directors general in Groups A, B, and C will all be on the same scale, in which a Tier-1 post comes with an annual pay packet of £115,000 to £135,000, while Tier 2 provides remuneration of £135,000 to £150,000, and Tier 3 offers £150,000 and upwards.

The document added that the government has said it will allow pay review bodies across the public sector to take a “more flexible approach to public sector pay to address areas of skills shortages and in return for improvements to public sector productivity”. However, it reiterated that the last Spending Review budgeted for a 1% average increase in basic pay, a limit that has been in place since 2012.


Sam Trendall

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