Treasury civil servants given pay rises and £15,000 bonuses during pandemic

·4-min read
The Treasury -  Chris Ratcliffe/PA
The Treasury - Chris Ratcliffe/PA

Treasury civil servants were given pay increases and £15,000 bonuses during the Covid crisis, despite rows over police and nurses' pay and Rishi Sunak's insistence that there was no more money for more public sector workers.

The department's accounts show that six of the top nine officials who were in post over the past two years received pay rises last year, while five received a bonus.

Clare Lombardelli, Mr Sunak's chief economist, received an increase of at least £30,000, bringing her total pay to between £150,000 and £155,000. The rise amounts to at least 25 per cent of her salary in the previous year.

Treasury sources said Ms Lombardelli's base salary had not increased by more than 9 per cent, a limit set by the Cabinet Office, but the additional increase was comprised of overtime and unpaid holiday allowance.

The top two Treasury officials, Tom Scholar and Charles Roxburgh, both received bonuses of between £15,000 and £20,000 on top of their salaries, alongside Beth Russell, the Treasury's head of tax and welfare.

Thirty per cent of senior civil servants, who have average salaries of around £80,000, also received a bonus.

On Wednesday night, Tory MPs said the pay increases were "completely unacceptable" in a year that saw public sector pay frozen amid concern about Government borrowing during the pandemic.

Mr Sunak used his Budget earlier this year to freeze pay for police officers and teachers.

NHS nurses and paramedics will receive a three per cent increase following a battle with ministers - one third of the rises offered to some civil servants.

Local council workers have since been offered a 1.75 per cent increase, described by unions as being "nowhere near what's needed".

The Chancellor said in March: "Given the very obviously difficult fiscal situation that we face [...] to try to protect those public sector jobs, it was reasonable to take a more targeted approach to public sector pay this year."

But the annual report of his own department shows the officials around him collected pay increases and bonuses of up to nine per cent of their salaries. The total bonuses awarded to seven top officials named in the report are enough to pay five police officers' annual salaries.

An analysis of last year's civil service pay showed Treasury officials were paid the most of any department except the Department of International Development, which has since been abolished.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a former Tory leader, said the Whitehall pay rises were "bizarre", adding: "I would have thought that they would show a bit of sympathy and that even if you were to pay them bonuses, they weren't paid until everyone was back to work properly.

"I am surprised at the lack of judgment. Everyone had a tough time last year, and I just find it bizarre that anyone would be paid a pay rise at that time. I think it's very poor timing and we should use a bit of political nous on this one."

Tory MP Andrew Percy said: "If pay had to be frozen for a front line police officer, then it absolutely should be frozen for senior civil servants too. It's completely unacceptable. These people should be following the lead of MPs and ministers and others in the public sector who are taking a pay freeze this year."

Earlier this week, the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said it had lost confidence in the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to support them in Government.

Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, said the pay freeze for police officers was "unacceptable" and accused the Conservatives of "letting down" the police.

A Treasury spokesman said: "Under civil service pay guidance, the maximum pay award any member of the Senior Civil Service could receive in 2020/21 was a nine per cent increase. The Treasury complied with these rules.

"Where it may appear a pay award of greater than nine per cent was given, this reflects compensation for items including additional hours worked or untaken holiday during the pandemic.

"In line with the rest of the Civil Service – except the NHS and those earning below £24,000 – Senior Civil Service pay will be frozen across 2021/22.”

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