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Thursday 22 July 2021

“There are obvious consequences to ministers failing to implement urgently needed change” – FDA responds to SSRB report

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The FDA has welcomed the Senior Salaries Review Body’s 43rd Report, published on 21 July 2021, and it’s call for “a step change in urgency”, from the need to develop and introduce a 21st Century Senior Civil Service strategy through to minimising complexity and creating an integrated and understandable approach to reward changes.

FDA Assistant General Secretary Lucille Thirlby said:

“The report clearly identifies areas that require an urgent focus, particularly the lack of progress on the reform to the performance management system, and investment in and implementation of a credible, robust and simple pay progression system.  As the SSRB points out, there is a ‘continuing thread’ in its concerns of ‘excessive complexity rather than a determined drive to implementation’.”

However Thirlby criticised the government’s response to the report, arguing that their Ministerial Statement “fails to grasp these important issues or say how the government will progress the report recommendations.”

“There are obvious consequences to ministers failing year after year to implement the urgently needed change for the Senior Civil Service,” she added. “Three departments had close to 30 per cent of their SCS leaving in a year. Pay and reward remains a core reason to move out of the civil service, but the proportion of leavers citing a lack of fair treatment or not feeling respected or valued at work remains worryingly high.”  

Thirlby urged the Minister for the Cabinet Office to give serious thought to the SSRB’s recommendations and to take “decisive action and invest in his senior leaders”, concluding that the recent ‘Declaration on Government Reform’ will remain “nothing more than words if the government fails to make the urgent step change required by investing in and valuing the SCS, and all civil servants”.

The FDA has made clear its opposition to the public sector ‘pay pause', and the SSRB made no specific pay recommendations for the 2021/22 pay year for the Senior Civil Service.  However, independent research commissioned by the FDA from Income Data Research showed that the SCS pay bands are between 10% and 15% behind at the median/midpoint basic salary for comparable roles in other major parts of the public sector. The comparison with the private sector is even more stark - at best SCS pay bands are around two thirds of private sector equivalents, and at the most senior levels half as much as their private sector comparators.

The FDA continues to engage with the Cabinet Office on the need for SCS pay reform.
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