PASC calls for new public sector pay commission
By Jaimie Kaffash
21 December 2009
MPs have recommended the establishment of an independent pay commission to scrutinise the salaries of top public sector officials.
The public administration select committee said the new commission would ‘name and shame’ the organisations that pay excessive salaries. It would also be able to set benchmarks for pay and launch investigations when they are breached.
The committee’s report added that the highest salaries in the public sector had not been growing at the same rate as those in the private sector, but they were still increasing far more quickly than average earnings. It also identified problems with the current arrangements for setting pay, such as organisations choosing from a smaller pool of individuals for their top jobs rather than nurturing talent.
Tony Wright, chair of the committee, said: “Set against the stratospheric pay increases seen at the top of the private sector over the last ten years, the public sector has got excellent value from many of its top people.
‘However, we do not believe that the ever-growing gulf between average earnings and top pay is sustainable or desirable – especially in a time of recession. Our Top Pay Commission would ensure that public sector pay setters would have to justify top pay deals and set them in the context of pay at lower levels and the state of the public finances.’
The FDA, the senior civil servants union, cautiously welcomed the recommendations. General secretary Jonathan Baume said: ‘The FDA has for some time argued the case for the introduction of clear principles when setting senior pay. Too often we see the problem of people being brought into the civil service from the private sector, or wider public sector, at salaries up to twice that paid to those promoted from within the civil service.
‘FDA members do some of the most demanding and key roles in the public sector and need to be properly rewarded. They are already facing a period of considerable pay restraint and, as PASC acknowledged, it would be particularly damaging to the UK if talented managers were to leave the public service.’