UNISON general secretary writes to the chancellor on civil service pay

In the letter, Christina McAnea calls on Jeremy Hunt to review the guidance which governs pay for EA, FSA and CQC members

woman's hands holding empty purse

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea has written to Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor of the exchequer this week, warning of the impact that this year’s Civil Service Pay Remit Guidance is having on staff in three public bodies, and calling for its review.

The guidance, which was published on 31 March, governs pay setting arrangements throughout the civil service and within that, applies to: the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the Environment Agency (EA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) – where UNISON is the largest union.

In the letter to the chancellor and the chief secretary to the treasury, Ms McAnea argues that the guidance is “now evidently out of date and urgently needs reviewing in light of the current cost of living crisis”.

The guidance has resulted in:

  • a final pay offer of 2% plus a £345 consolidated increase, as well as some increases to allowances for EA workers;
  • a final pay offer ranging from 0-5% depending on grading in the FSA;
  • CQC negotiators approaching the Cabinet Office to seek permission to offer a higher pay award for their employees

All three bodies are facing severe recruitment and retention problems and the miserly pay offers, which the guidance limits the bodies to, will only compound those issues.

In both the FSA and the EA, the pay offers were heavily rejected by UNISON members and the union is now moving to an industrial action ballots.

In the CQC there is now evidence that employees are having to use foodbanks for the first time and it is highly likely that staff would reject a restricted offer and would move to further action.

The letter states: “UNISON takes no pleasure in moving towards industrial action. But staff are frustrated that they are not being properly rewarded for the work they do,” before highlighting the vital work that workers in these three bodies carry out.

It adds that members are not asking for much: “Just a decent and fair pay rise that keeps up with the increasing cost of living, so they can heat their homes and not have to use foodbanks.”

And Ms McAnea concludes: “On behalf of the thousands of workers in these services… I ask that the civil service pay remit guidance is reworked taking into account the significant increase in the cost of living and the impact on recruitment and retention within these organisations.”