Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, speaking on behalf of 30,000 specialists and managers across the civil service, said: “Our members are increasingly telling us that sclerotic, uncompetitive pay restraint is resulting in a failure to recruit across government. This is not sustainable.
“Furthermore, the PAC tells us that the civil service and its agencies are increasingly relying on the use of consultants, who can often cost twice as much as the equivalent members of staff. In other words, the much-trumpeted cost savings achieved through pay restraint are a damaging false economy.”
This week’s 2016-17 pay guidance for the civil service, published by the Treasury, said that average pay awards would be limited to 1%, with only limited flexibility for departments to address specific recruitment and retention pressures.
Meanwhile, the PAC spending watchdog said spending on consultants and temporary staff had been increasing since 2011-12. In 2014-15, it said, up to £1.3bn was spent by the main government departments.
Prospect analysis of government figures suggests spending on consultants is particularly acute in the MoD and its agencies. For example, DE&S spends the equivalent of 8.3% of its monthly pay bill on 254 consultants – equating to just 2.5% of its workforce, if the government figures are correct.
“On the face of it, the figures suggest there are at least parts of the civil service that could afford to pay much more market-competitive rates,” Graham added.
A Prospect survey of its civil service membership earlier this year found more than 70% were dissatisfied with pay, with nearly 80% saying they felt worse off, taking into account the cost of living, than in 2010.
More than 50% reported that pay restraint had resulted in their employer struggling to fill certain jobs. Members said recruitment was at its worst in the Met Office, DVSA, the ONS and the Research Councils.
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