UK civil servants’ pay satisfaction drops dramatically, official survey shows

By on 04/04/2023 | Updated on 04/04/2023

Only a quarter of UK officials believe their pay adequately reflects their performance, according to the government’s latest UK Civil Service People Survey – the lowest score in 14 years.

The results of the 2022 survey, which were published by the Cabinet Office last week, show that 26.7% of civil servants felt their pay was adequate. This is down 11.7 percentage points on 2021 and is the lowest pay satisfaction score since the survey began in 2009.

In the latest survey – which was taken by just under 347,000 officials between September and October 2022 – only 33.9% of respondents said they were satisfied with their pay and benefits package. This is a fall of 11.4 points on the previous year and the lowest score since 2017. The overall pay and benefits score was 27.6%.  

Less than half (42.3%) of respondents said they wanted to stay in their organisation “for at least the next three years”, with the majority (54.0%) citing the reason as wanting a better pay and benefits package.

Read more: Canadian public servants set for strike ballot as governments worldwide grapple with industrial action

The survey was taken during a long-running dispute between the government and unions representing civil servants over pay, pensions and redundancy terms.

Strike action by civil servants in three government departments took place in December, followed by a walk out by more than 100,000 officials on 1 February. More industrial action is planned this month, culminating in a strike by more than 130,000 civil servants on 28 April.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) is pushing for a 10% pay rise – far more than the 2% pay increase cap imposed by the government. Cabinet Office ministers had indicated that pay negotiations would begin early this year but they are yet to happen.

“We know our strikes have already caused serious disruption. The new strikes and another national day of action will pile the pressure on a government that refuses to listen,” said Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary.

Satisfaction with leadership and change management also falls

Satisfaction with leadership and management of change has also fallen in the latest survey.

Just over half (55.3%) of respondents said senior leaders had a clear vision for the future of the organisation – a fall of 4.8 points since 2021 – while 57.9% said they had confidence in the decisions made by their organisation’s senior managers, a decline of 4.3 points on the previous year.

Only 38.2% of the civil servants who completed the survey felt that change was managed well in their organisation, and fewer (36.4%) said they felt that when changes are made “they are usually for the better” – these statistics represent a drop of 3.0 points and 4.3 points on 2021 respectively.  

Read more: Job satisfaction of US federal officials falls, annual employee survey finds

Among the survey’s other results, 61.0% of respondents said they would recommend their organisation as a great place to work; 52.4% said their organisation motivates them to help it achieve its objectives; 61.7% said they have an acceptable workload; and 35.6% said they collaborate with civil servants in other government departments and agencies to achieve common goals “some of the time, often or always”.

Among the results in the wellbeing section of the survey, more than a tenth (10.8%) of civil servants said they were suffering with long COVID.

Only 34.9% of respondents felt that effective action had been taken to address issues raised in the last survey. However, a higher percentage (50.7%) said they believed that senior managers within their organisation would take action on the results of the 2022 survey.

Confidence in UK civil service falls – but is much higher than government

In the same week that the results of the UK Civil Service People Survey were released, the Policy Institute at King’s College London published its World Values Survey, which found that of the more than 20 countries surveyed, the UK fares poorly on public confidence in the civil service, government, parliament and political parties.

The percentage of people surveyed in Great Britain who said they had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the civil service dropped from 53% in 2018 to 49% in 2022. The government received a confidence rate of just 24%, the worst rating since 2009. These scores put the UK in 14th place (of 24 countries) on confidence in the civil service and in 17th place on confidence in government.

Read more: Beyond pay and promotion: how governments can attract and retain staff in a fast-changing world

Want to write for GGF? We are always looking to hear from public and civil servants on the latest developments in their organisation – please get in touch below or email [email protected]

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *