FDA urges Chancellor to act now on civil service pay or risk undermining vital public services

Tuesday 20 June 2017

[For immediate release]

Britain’s public services could be seriously undermined unless the Treasury takes urgent action to address morale, recruitment and retention problems caused by the current civil service pay system, the FDA union has warned Chancellor Philip Hammond and the new Minister for the Cabinet Office, Damian Green.

The call from the FDA – which represents senior managers and professionals in public service – comes on the eve of the Queen's Speech and as a new survey by the union reveals the scale of dissatisfaction with civil service pay and the toll it is taking on public services.

The FDA Pay Survey of almost 2,000 public sector leaders shows:

• 83% are unhappy with the overall pay arrangements in the civil service
• More than two-thirds (68%) are aware of recruitment and/or retention difficulties in their organisation
• Almost a third (30%) would like to leave the civil service ‘as soon as possible’
• 60% per cent say their morale has decreased over the course of the last year, with only six percent feeling more positive about their role.
• 86% do not believe that their organisation is sufficiently resourced to meet the challenges facing it in the year ahead

Some FDA members first saw their pay frozen in 2010, with the 1% cap on pay rises introduced in 2012 set to continue until at least the end of the decade. Combined with other changes to their terms and conditions, some civil servants have now experienced a real terms pay cut of over 20%.
The FDA is urging the Chancellor to use this week’s Queen’s Speech to signal a reset on public sector pay and resourcing. Specifically, the union wants the Treasury to:

• Withdraw and revise the civil service pay guidance for delegated grades published before the general election, which again commits employers to the 1% pay cap.

• Publish that revised guidance alongside the Government’s delayed response to the Senior Salaries Review Body to give the civil service a pay system that is able to motivate, recruit and retain the talent needed for the challenges ahead.

• Launch a new Spending Review to ensure that all departments are properly resourced to keep Britain’s vital public services running in uncertain times.

In his letter to the Chancellor and Minister for the Cabinet Office, the FDA’s General Secretary Dave Penman says there is “a real risk that the continuation of the Government’s current approach on civil service pay could seriously undermine public service delivery”.

He adds: “Our survey found that a third of civil servants say they would like to leave the civil service as soon as possible. Even more concerning is the view expressed by 86% of respondents that their department is not sufficiently resourced to meet the challenges it will face in the year ahead.  

“Members also highlight problems in recruiting new staff and retaining those who are recruited. The universal reason provided is dissatisfaction with ‘pay’… Failure to recruit and the high turnover of staff is wasteful and inefficient and, in many areas, is getting in the way of successful delivery.”

“Workloads have grown as pay as fallen, so it is hardly surprising that dedicated civil servants are being driven to the end of their patience by a policy that was presented as an economic necessity in 2010 but has now become a convenient habit."

Launching the FDA’s Pay Survey, Assistant General Secretary Naomi Cooke said: 

“Pay restraint has turned into pay decline as inflation, pension contribution hikes and a refusal to reform pay frameworks takes its toll on civil servants up and down the country.

“Workloads have grown as pay as fallen, so it is hardly surprising that dedicated civil servants are being driven to the end of their patience by a policy that was presented as an economic necessity in 2010 but has now become a convenient habit.

“The new Government needs to prioritise resourcing the civil service properly to meet the challenges of the year ahead. This means fundamentally changing the approach taken to civil service pay so that it rewards and motivates those people tasked with delivering the Government’s agenda.”
Notes for editors
1. The FDA is the trade union for the UK's senior public servants and professionals at grade HEO and above. FDA membership includes more than 18,000 senior civil servants, diplomats, Government policy advisors, prosecutors, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across Government and the NHS.
2. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants’ union".
3. Our Pay Survey of all FDA members below Senior Civil Service grade ran over a four-week period from April to May 2017, receiving 1,971 responses. Click here for further detail on the findings and the full letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond.
4. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union and at www.fda.org.uk.
5. For further information contact the FDA Communications team on 020 7401 5589.