NAO report highlights the absurdity of attempting to push through significant further savings

29 November 2023

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a report looking at pay and recruitment challenges across the Civil Service.

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The report highlighted problems in key areas including:

  • Government faces substantial challenges to attract and retain civil service staff, and declining morale among civil servants is evident from employee surveys as well as from more frequent industrial action.
  • Across almost all civil service grades, real-terms median salaries have fallen over time. Analysis of Annual Civil Service Employment Survey (ACSES) data shows that from 2013 to 2022, the median salary in almost every grade went down in real terms. .. For example, the median salary of civil servants in Grade 6 fell in real terms by almost £7,000 over this period, from £74,600 to £67,700 (values indexed to 2022 prices).
  • The Government Recruitment Service’s staffing was cut by 40% in 2022, but the cuts had to be reversed a year later to avoid the significant risk of service failure.

Mike Clancy, General Secretary of Prospect, said:

“Today’s NAO report highlights the absurdity of attempting to push through significant further savings in the Civil Service.

“Pay across the Civil Service has fallen significantly in the last decade, with the median Grade 6 salary now £7000 below 2013 levels. This is made worse in some areas with significant interdepartmental discrepancies and low morale exacerbating recruitment challenges.

“Staff attitude surveys have been consistent- with 75% of staff believing they would be better rewarded doing similar jobs in the wider economy and around a quarter of staff saying they want to leave their jobs either immediately or in the next year. It is no wonder in those circumstances that employers are complaining that they are struggling to recruit and retain the skilled and specialist staff that they need.

“The Government is deluded if it thinks it can make the cuts it wants to without critically harming the Civil Service as a whole.”

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