Mark Serwotka letter to Theresa May 15 June

15 Jun 2017

Pay cap and staffing cuts in the civil service and related bodies



The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street

London SW1A 2AA


15 June 2017


Dear Mrs May,

Pay cap and staffing cuts in the civil service and related bodies

I am writing to urge you to use next week’s Queen’s Speech to introduce new policies on pay and staffing in the civil service and related bodies. First, there is an unarguable case for an immediate end to the 1% public sector pay cap with adequate funding provided for pay increases above 1%. Secondly, damaging staffing reductions in the civil service and related bodies must be halted, particularly in the light of the demands which will be placed on the service by the Brexit process.

Given the result of the recent general election, it is clear that your minority government does not have public support for continuing a public sector pay policy that is both unjust to public sector workers and damaging to the economy as a whole.

In July 2016, you said, “If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people at Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have a home but you worry about paying the mortgage. You can just about manage, but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school. If you are one of those families, if you are just managing I want to address you directly”.

By any definition many civil and public servants fall into this category. The policy of capping pay rises at 1% is directly causing the hardship you profess to care about.

Since the pay cap has been in place, the value of average pay in the civil service has fallen by up to 9% against inflation. The value of average earnings in the civil service has fallen further than the value of average earnings in the rest of the public sector (3-4%, CPI), and in the economy as a whole (7-8%, CPI). If the pay cap continues until 2020, average civil service pay will have fallen in value by between 12% if the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to measure inflation and 20.4% if the Retail Price Index (RPI) is used to measure inflation.

Additionally, since 2010 members of the civil service pension schemes have seen significant changes to benefits and retirement age. They have also seen the introduction of increased contribution rates. For a civil servant on average salary, who pay tax at the basic rate, increased pension contributions will have reduced take home pay by around £1,000 a year.

In April 2017, David Gauke, then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, responded to our pay remit submission by confirming that the government did not intend to lift the 1% pay cap claiming that pay restraint has protected jobs. This is simply not true. 120,000 civil service jobs have been cut since 2010, with further office closures and the risk of more redundancies threatened.

The policy of capping public sector workers pay is counterproductive, unjust and economically unnecessary.

The forthcoming Queen’s Speech is also an opportunity to end the damaging and unnecessary reductions in staffing in the civil service and related bodies and to end the large scale programme of office closures that is depriving many people of access to vital services.

Hundreds of tax offices, job centres, driving test centres, passport offices, courts, police stations and other government offices have closed over the last few years, and hundreds more are due to close in the next few years. Staffing cuts and office closures are causing a deterioration in service to the public at a time when demand is rising and they must be halted. In the light of Brexit this issue is even more urgent. Currently there is no discernible planning for the extra resources in the civil service required by the Brexit process or any meaningful consultation.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Serwotka

General Secretary



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