Fat cat pay cheques push up the cost of civil service

SURGING pay for public sector fat cats is pushing civil servant staffing costs out of control, according to a report published today by government watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO).

Rising wages for those at the top accounted for half of a 10 per cent increase in costs over and above inflation since 2000, the report says.

It also shows that the cost of bonuses for the best-paid has risen to £200m compared to virtually zero 10 years ago. The increasing costs are despite a one per cent decrease in headcount to 493,000 staff over the decade.

Wage costs have swelled even more in the public sector overall: a 13 per cent surge in headcount since 2000 has seen costs balloon 40 per cent above inflation. There are now over 45,000 civil servants in the top two pay grades and 390 earning over £125,000 a year.

The NAO blames “poor control over the numbers and roles of higher-grade staff” for costs of £16.4bn last year.

And the figures show that while pay is rising at the top, the bottom 34 per cent remain on salaries of between £15,000 and £20,000.

In response, the NAO recommends that the state makes greater use of bonuses linked to performance.