22 July 2021

DWP pay 2021

Last month the employer imposed a paltry pay offer which PCS opposes.

Our members in DWP deserve more for the work they have done throughout the pandemic. We have long called for a return to national pay bargaining, and we are moving closer to that by putting in sectoral pay claims.

Our members in DWP, like other workers across the public sector, have delivered like never before throughout this crisis. Keeping the benefits system afloat, PCS members have ensured much-needed financial assistance was given to those most in need, including to millions who had never previously had to rely on benefits, while also delivering other vital services.

You have faced the same difficulties and effects of Covid-19 as everyone else, yet despite this you have been at the forefront of the response to the pandemic, stepping up time and again, ensuring the most vulnerable in society received the support they needed.  

The warm words of praise that came from politicians and the public alike were welcome, but warm words do not pay bills or feed the family. 

The government had a responsibility to deliver more than warm words to our members – they should have given due recognition to your outstanding work by rewarding you all with a proper pay rise. This would have gone some way in thanking you for your efforts, while at the same time giving the economy a much-needed boost by increasing our members’ spending power. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Tories have chosen another path. 

This GEC will not let this latest, disgraceful pay award go unchallenged and has agreed to continue our campaign with members in every workplace, in line with the GEC motion passed at June's group conference. The GEC has outlined its opposition to the offer and will continue supporting the national union's demands on pay. We will now step up our work with branches to build the confidence of members that we can win on pay.

Martin Cavanagh, DWP Group President, says: "This month the vast majority of our members have seen the harsh reality of their 2021 pay award. They have received no pay increase at all this year, with only the lowest paid in the department – those earning £24k or less – getting a paltry £250. The one-off £145 (before tax) bonus does little to soften the blow that tens of thousands will be feeling. 

“In truth, with inflation forecast to continue to rise, this is a real-terms pay cut and is a real kick in the teeth for our members. Alongside other public sector workers they are being made to pay for the pandemic, in the same way they had to pay for the last financial crash. It is unacceptable."

Different approach – sectoral pay claim presented to DWP 

PCS has long had a policy of a return to national pay bargaining, instead of having annual pay talks with every employer group. 

National pay bargaining was abolished by the then Conservative government in 1994. Up until that point all civil servants, regardless of government department, had always had broadly the same rate of pay across the traditional civil service grades. 

Over the last 25 years, PCS has reluctantly negotiated delegated pay separately in each of the many government departments, and as a result members are now paid wildly different rates of pay. We have always understood this is wrong and unfair, arguing that, no matter what department you work for, we are all employed by the Crown as civil and public servants, we all do broadly comparable work within job evaluated grades, and so all deserve the same pay.

That is why the PCS national conference, made up of every union branch, has repeatedly voted for a return to national pay bargaining and the national union leadership has strongly argued for this for many years. 

What does sectoral pay bargaining mean?

There are now more than 200 sets of pay talks every year involving PCS and our members. This is wasteful and inefficient for both the union and management in each department. In replying recently to a parliamentary question planted by PCS even Michael Gove described it as “the Balkanisation of the civil service.”  

Motion 5 from national conference of 2019 sets out a way forward towards a return to national pay bargaining. By campaigning for equal pay and coherence of pay and terms and conditions across bargaining areas, this would be a first step towards national pay. It has been agreed to put in sectoral pay claims this year to each department instead of a claim to each different employer. PCS wants to improve and bring together the pay of all members across the civil and public service. DWP's claim was submitted alongside our overall DWP claim in line with agreed national demands.

What does this mean in DWP?

In DWP, if we were successful in obtaining negotiations of sectoral pay, instead of having separate claims and talks for DWP, HSE and the Office for the Nuclear Regulator, it would mean one pay claim and one set of pay talks. 

It would also help bridge the disparity in pay that currently exists within our pay "sector". A disparity that sees, for example, the DWP EO minimum set at £22,985 while the EO minimum in the HSE is £25,674.  

DWP has met with PCS and taken away both the principles of moving to a sectoral approach and the details of our claim, which were published to members earlier in the year.

If we were able to deliver on sectoral pay it would be a significant step towards a return to national pay bargaining and the end to over 25 years of divide and rule would be so much closer.

Martin Cavanagh
DWP group president

Source URL: https://www.pcs.org.uk/news-events/news/dwp-pay-2021