Treasury civil servants given pay rises of up to 30pc during pandemic

Treasury civil servants were given pay increases of up to 30 per cent 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 salary to between £150,000 and £155,000.

The top two 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.

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, while local council workers have since been offered a 1.75 per cent increase. Unions have described  the offer 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 government spokesman said: "We need to make sure the Civil Service is able to attract high-calibre people who can deliver quality services and drive forward projects in a way that represents true value to the taxpayer.

"However, very high salaries in the public sector must be justified, so it is absolutely right that we publish this information and allow it to be scrutinised."

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