Number of government staff earning £50k-plus rises by 131

Julie Edge

Julie Edge

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There are 131 more government staff earning more than £50,000 compared with five years ago.

In the House of Keys this week Liberal Vannin MHK for Onchan Julie Edge quizzed Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas over why there had been an increase in expenditure on public sector salaries above £50,000 when there was supposed to have been a cap on departments’ salary budgets.

Chris Thomas MHK

Chris Thomas MHK

Mr Thomas told the Keys that the increase in expenditure on public sector salaries above £50,000 in the last five years was primarily due to public sector pay awards, which have risen on average by around 5 per cent over the period.

‘This, together with incremental progression, but combined with reduction in staff numbers, has led to a net increase of 131 earning above £50,000 compared to five years ago,’ he said.

Figures for staff remuneration contained the latest government audited accounts, for the year to the end of March 2016, show that the number earning above £50,000 rose from 895 in 2014-15 to 963 in 2015-16, an increase of 68.

One earned £300,000 to £324,999 (the same as last year), two earned £275,000 to £299,999 (up from one last year), two earned £250,000 to £274,999 (same as last year), six were paid £225,000 to £249,999 (up from four the previous year) and seven earned £200,000 to £224,999 (half the number in 2014-15).

The number earning between £100,000 and £199,999 has fallen by just one over the year from 108 to 107, but those paid between £75,000 and £99,999 have increased from 128 in 2014-15 to 139 in 2015-16, and the number in the £50,000 to £74,999 pay range has risen from 637 in 2014-15 to 699 in 2015-16.

Those figures are for total remuneration regardless of how many posts an individual employee has held and they include compensation payments. Mr Thomas said that those earning below £50,000 made up 91 per cent of overall pay and of those earning above £50,000, a high proportion are in services such as education, health, fire and police.

He said the cost control policy was to cap increases in employee costs at 1 per cent and Treasury has advised that if pay awards are made above that figure, departments have to make savings accordingly.

Ms Edge queried if that policy was being adhered to, given the increased expenditure on salaries over £50,000.

The Minister said that if pay settlements go to arbitration, government loses control of the ability to settle.

He said in the budget, the Treasury Minister would make his position clear how the effectiveness of existing budgetary policies can be improved.

In September it was announced public sector workers would get a 2.2 per cent pay rise, backdated to April.

Government had offered 1 per cent but the unions had sought 4.4 per cent and when extensive negotiations failed to find an agreement, it went to independent arbitration.

The pay award of 2.2 per cent amounts to an increase in salary costs of about £2.95m, which had to be found from within existing budgets. Ministers warned this would lead to job losses.

Tynwald members also receive the 2.2 per cent increase, taking their basic salary to £40,417.

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