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News - 16 May 2012

Civil Service pay cuts hold back “Talent.”

As according to Government advisor and former BP chief Lord Browne, who has been drafted-in to assist in reshaping the Civil Service.

Lord Browne and 59 other non-executive directors from the City and industry are to sit on the board of 16 government departments as part of an effort to make the machinery of government operate more like a public company.

As an example of perfect timing, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude (who set up the initiative) said more underperforming staff should be sacked.

Mr Maude told the Daily Telegraph: "It is a myth that you can never sack a civil servant. It is not easy to sack anyone, nor should it be. But it is no more difficult in the civil service than it is anywhere else, on performance grounds.”

The government has already introduced performance-related bonuses for many civil servants, despite strong opposition from the PCS union. A comment on their web site explains their opposition

"Improved performance is only really possible when everyone contributes. A carrot on a stick may be OK for donkeys but not civil servants."

Lord Browne's report says the calibre of civil servants was "generally very high" but there was a lack of staff with commercial skill or expertise in handling major projects.
It says better "talent management" and rewards for good performance are needed.

Last year another government adviser, economist Will Hutton, said in his Fair Pay Report that public sector workers should face salary cuts if they fail to meet performance targets. He said the "remarkable" executive pay growth, in both the public and private sector, had come with "growing scepticism" about whether such rewards were deserved.

In 2010, in an attempt to impose restraint, the government named 172 civil servants earning more than the prime minister's £142,500 salary.

However, on one thing the Government and the Union have found common ground. Plans for changes to public sector pensions from 2015 have been accepted by members of the UK's second-largest civil service union. Members of the Prospect union have voted 79% in favour of the deal struck between the government and unions.

There was a 50% turnout among the 29,000 members affected by the changes. The union said the deal was the best that could be achieved from negotiations, but said it did not endorse any changes from now to 2014.

However, a number of unions remain opposed to the plans. Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers took part in a 24-hour UK-wide strike last Thursday over the pension changes. Prospect added that 5,000 of its members were affected by negotiations on the local government pension scheme, on which talks continued with employers.

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