Top digital civil servants set for pay boost

The Cabinet Office has revealed plans to bring in higher rates for in-demand roles

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The Cabinet Office has revealed plans to introduce higher specialist pay rates for senior civil servants working in a range of digital positions.

Senior officials working in seven digital roles – from a total of 38 that are defined on the capability framework for the digital, data, and technology profession – will be among the first to benefit from a planned civil service pay overhaul on which salaries will be set based on specific skills and roles across government.

The reforms, first proposed in 2018, are intended to reward “high-performing” officials and encourage people to stay in their jobs longer. 

A document submitted this week to the Senior Salaries Review Body has set out how the Cabinet Office plans to implement proposed reforms to split SCS pay rates into three groupings. The document is likely to inform the SSRB’s deliberations on Senior Civil Service pay for 2019-20.

Under the plans submitted, the majority of civil service professions would fall under group A, which covers “civil service-wide professions”. A small number of what the document calls “market-facing” positions constitute group B. Workers in these roles will be eligible for higher “guideline” pay ranges to ensure government is able to recruit “in-demand” skills.

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Group C would be made up of niche roles, particular to just one or a few departments. These could include roles in medicine, inspectors of education and tax professionals.

The submission to the SSRB, published on Monday, revealed that the government plans to introduce new target pay ranges for some SCS roles in the “more mature” government professions, with digital, data and technology and finance picked as the two disciplines to form the first wave. 

These are among a “small numbers of roles in areas where the civil service needs to tailor its approach to compete effectively with the external market for senior, specialist skills”, it said.

“It is for these particular ‘market facing’ and ‘niche’ roles that the government intends to introduce specialist pay arrangements. Not all professions will be market facing and, within those that are, not all roles will be eligible for specialist pay,” the Cabinet Office said.

Under the plans, the target pay levels will be set though business cases to be submitted by professions in the spring. Business cases will be expected to set out recruitment problems caused by current pay rates and that the additional pay will be part of “a long term pay solution rather than a tactical fix”.

Once approved, departments will be given flexibility within this year’s overall pay award to give pay rises to civil servants in the agreed roles who currently earn less than the proposed range.

Only deputy directors and directors will be eligible for the increases, and not director generals, according to the submission, although this is being kept under review.

Any higher rates of pay will be reviewed regularly, according to the Cabinet Office, with further roles and professions to be considered for a wider rollout in 2020/21. 

The Cabinet Office acknowledged that it was making “a significant strategic shift in the approach to SCS pay structures” to enable it “to attract and retain key, scarce skills from the external market and addressing the oft-cited issue of pay disparity between internally and externally recruited SCS undertaking the same type of role, which is generally starker in specialist roles”.


Sam Trendall

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