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Pay rises for virtually every NI civil servant over last year

Bulletin shows 274 earning £70,000 or over, with the average wage for workers £27,850


Some 274 staff were on salaries of £70,000 or more.

Some 274 staff were on salaries of £70,000 or more.

Economist Esmond Birnie

Economist Esmond Birnie

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph


Some 274 staff were on salaries of £70,000 or more.

Nearly all 23,000 civil service staff in Northern Ireland received pay increases over the last year, according to a report.

The bulletin on pay in the civil service for the year to March 2020 showed an average basic pay of £27,020 for 22,881 civil service staff, which was up 5.8% on the equivalent figure for a year earlier.

It states that 99% of workers enjoyed pay increases of at least 2%. It said that: "38% of industrial staff received a pay increase between 4% and 5.9%.

"99% of administrative assistant staff received a pay increase between 2% and 3.9% Over 60% of senior civil service staff received a pay increase between 4% and 5.9%."

And 274 staff were on salaries of £70,000 or more, including 27 at the top level, which includes permanent secretaries who lead government departments, and their deputies.

Pay for men and women was equal at most grades, apart from deputy principal and grade 7 level, where female pay was about 2% lower for both.

A higher level of pay increase - between 4% and 5.9% - went to industrial staff, which covers staff who do not work in an office, and those at the top tier.


The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, which issued the bulletin, said the higher pay for bosses was because some had been progressing up pay scales. A survey on private sector wages last month showed pay increases of 3.2%, bringing the median salary to £28,000.

There is also a gap between Protestant and Catholic pay in the civil service, with the median pay for Catholic staff 6.4% lower. Nisra said the difference was due to "a range of factors including differing proportions of staff in lower paid grades".

Economist Dr Esmond Birnie of the Ulster University Business School said the "fairly strong" pay increases would surprise many in the private sector: "On average pay was up 5.8% although that did represent a combination of both moving up scales and adjustments to those scales.

"Nevertheless, this is a situation which many in the private sector who have not benefited from either recently might find surprising."

At £533, average weekly civil service pay was nearly 22% over the private sector at £437.

Added Dr Birnie: "One direct explanation for this position is that civil service pay levels do tend to be closely aligned to those in GB, whereas in the NI private sector pay levels can be 10-15% lower - a historical position reflecting the generally relatively low labour productivity of the NI private sector."

But he said civil servants were unlikely to get another pay boost in the year ahead. "Expect some lean times ahead given that the Chancellor recently indicated severe pay restrictions for most of UK public sector other than the NHS and very lowest pay grades."

Belfast Telegraph