30 November 2021

Impact of civil service pay cuts highlighted in parliament

The real impact of over a decade of real-terms pay cuts on civil and public servants was highlighted during a debate in parliament yesterday.  

Opening the debate, PCS cross-party parliamentary group chair, Chris Stephens MP paid tribute to the work of civil servants during the pandemic, but pointed out that these workers have seen their living standards fall by about 20% in real terms.

At a recent Prime Minister’s Question Time, Boris Johnson praised DWP workers for having performed miracles in getting millions effectively back into employment since the pandemic began. Since his comments, PCS received dozens of emails from members working in DWP about the need for a pay rise that reflects their hard work and the toll that more than a decade of real-terms pay cuts have taken on them. 

Prior to yesterday’s adjournment debate these testimonies were passed on to Chris, who read out many of them during his impactful speech.

He told how one DWP worker had said: “I have worked for DWP for nearly 17 years, those years of which I felt proud to work for my government. Now I feel embarrassed. I work hard, as I always have. I have two children to bring up and can honestly say I’m on the breadline. My family suffer financially, with the rise in cost of fuel bills, food...everything has gone up but our pay....absolutely disgusting. Our government doesn’t look after its own workers but expect us to be loyal and perform an outstanding job...which we always do.”

This was just one of many hard-hitting examples heard in Parliament yesterday. A full transcript is available on the Hansard website.

During the debate, Chris also pressed the Treasury minister on the need to reduce the number of pay bargaining units. In response, the paymaster general, Michael Ellis MP said that the rationalisation of those issues is always worth looking at and agreed to look at it.

The minister also agreed to look at analysis carried out for PCS by Dr Mark Williams, which found that pay has fallen more in the civil service than the rest of the public sector.

Watch the debate 

Real stories from our members have an impact. Tell us your financial struggles by emailing editor@pcs.org.uk.