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Civil Service heads handed 'a baffling' 2.1% pay increase

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 22/01/2016

More than 80% of high-ranking civil servants got a pay rise last year, it has been revealed
More than 80% of high-ranking civil servants got a pay rise last year, it has been revealed

More than 80% of high-ranking civil servants got a pay rise last year, it has been revealed.

Senior staff received increases of between 2% and 3.9%, an official report indicated.

On average, the salary of people at the top of the Civil Service rose by 2.1% from 2014 to 2015.

The salary details emerged in a bulletin released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

The report also disclosed that 21 high-ranking civil servants earned £100,000 or more.

They were among 1,245 individuals receiving £50,000 or above as of March 2015.

Men continued to dominate high-paid positions - less than 25% of staff earning £75,000 or more were female.

The report, released yesterday, also revealed that:

  • The average basic salary of staff in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) is £24,728, which is unchanged from 2014.
  • The majority of civil servants (55%) received an increase in salary between 2014 and 2015.
  • The rise varied across grades. All industrial staff received a pay increase, but 60% of staff at administrative assistant level received no increase.
  • At senior Civil Service grade level, 81% of staff received pay increases of between 2% and 3.9%.
  • Lower-grade staff were better paid than their counterparts in Britain, although for senior positions the reverse was true.

Dia Chakravarty, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said the increases in salaries were "baffling".

"The public sector will need to continue to make some very tough decisions in order to find the necessary savings in our national budget," she added.

The report noted that wage increases can be down to normal progression up a pay scale - they do not necessarily imply a change in salary grade.

The 21 staff earning £100,000 or above are likely to include permanent secretaries of Stormont departments.

Although the median basic full-time equivalent salaries of male and female civil servants are equal, compared to a 1.1% gap in 2014, this is not the case as you go up the pay scale.

Of the 21 people earning £100,000 or more, 17 were men, and just 18 of the 74 who earned £75,000 or more were women.

The report also noted significant differences between wages in the Civil Service and the private sector.

"NICS median earnings for full-time staff are lower than those in the overall Northern Ireland public sector but are considerably higher than the median earnings in the Northern Ireland private sector," it stated.

"In considering these differences, it must be borne in mind that the occupational compositions of the NICS, the wider public sector and the private sector are very different."

Paul MacFlynn, an economist at the think tank the Neri Institute, defended the Civil Service pay deals and said: "Northern Ireland has, regionally, the lowest private sector wages in the UK."

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