The number of civil servants earning more than £150,000 a year has soared since the start of the pandemic – despite many of them working from home.
Figures yesterday revealed that almost 600 civil servants and senior public sector officials were paid over £150,000 – up almost 16 per cent on two years ago.
The Prime Minister earns just over £150,000 for running the country. No fewer than 16 Whitehall officials now get paid more than twice that amount.
Chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty (pictured) is on the list with a salary of up to £210,000, while chief science officer Sir Patrick Vallance earns up to £185,000. Both were unchanged from last year
Those whose salaries exceed £150,000 cost the taxpayer up to £107 million a year – up from £100 million the year before.
The pay list is topped by the boss of the controversial HS2 project, who earns £625,000. Some 46 executives at HS2 earn more than £150,000, even though the rail project has been dramatically scaled back.
Another 74 from Network Rail earn more than £150,000, despite reduced train services during the pandemic.
The list also reveals that a Civil Service boss who controversially extolled the virtues of flexible working because she enjoyed getting on her Peloton exercise bike saw an increase in her £150,000-plus salary.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, who is on up to £590,000, is pictured above. Of the 15 who earn more than twice the Prime Minister, ten are from Network Rail
Sarah Healey, permanent secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, saw her salary move from the £160,000 to £165,000 band to the £165,000-£170,000 bracket.
The pay bonanza comes despite a rampant ‘working from home’ culture among civil servants which ministers have struggled to address.
Only last week, the Government was forced to launch another drive to get staff back at their desks after a Daily Mail audit found many Whitehall departments were virtually empty.
At the same time, millions of ordinary families are facing intense financial pressure, with a cost of living crisis driven by inflation, tax rises and soaring energy bills.
The most highly paid public servant on the list is Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, which is building a high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham. He earns between £620,000 and £625,000
Of the 15 who earn more than twice the Prime Minister, ten are from Network Rail. They include Jeremy Westlake, the chief financial officer (up to £420,000)
Yesterday’s data shows that at the end of September last year, there were 599 civil servants on £150,000 or more. That compares to 552 the year before and 518 in September 2019. By contrast, the PM takes home £157,372 of the £161,868 he is entitled to.
The figures reveal that 456 civil servants now earn more than £155,000.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers will be shocked by the scale of these public sector pay hikes. Ministers must get the Civil Service salary bill under control before asking taxpayers for any more of their money.’
The so-called ‘fat cat’ league table will anger millions who have suffered pay freezes in recent years.
The details quietly released on the Cabinet Office website yesterday revealed the pay packets of all civil servants and senior public sector officials earning more than £150,000 – in £5,000 bands. It does not include other types of public sector workers – such as those who work for councils, or NHS trusts – meaning there are likely to be many more over this threshold.
Simon Case, the embattled Cabinet Secretary, pictured, was on up to £205,000
Sue Gray – who is investigating the Downing Street parties – earns up to £155,000
The most highly paid public servant on the list is Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, which is building a high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham. He earns between £620,000 and £625,000.
Next is Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, who is on up to £590,000.
Of the 15 who earn more than twice the Prime Minister, ten are from Network Rail.
They include Jeremy Westlake, the chief financial officer (up to £420,000), and the country’s highest-paid female public servant Susan Cooklin, Network Rail’s managing director of route services (£350,000).
Chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty is on the list with a salary of up to £210,000, while chief science officer Sir Patrick Vallance earns up to £185,000. Both were unchanged from last year.
Simon Case, the embattled Cabinet Secretary, was on up to £205,000, while Sue Gray – who is investigating the Downing Street parties – earns up to £155,000.
The pay row comes as ministers are trying to urge civil servants to return to the office.
While the numbers coming back to Whitehall are beginning to improve, unions have warned against a ‘reckless’ rush back – arguing that home working is here to stay.
A Government spokesman defended the pay levels, saying that attracting and retaining highly skilled individuals was essential for delivering key public services and said departments look to balance the need to be competitive with value for money for the taxpayer.
‘These posts represent just 0.1 per cent of Civil Service jobs and 44 of the 47 roles added to the list are not new jobs,’ he said.
‘We recognise that high salaries in the public sector must be justified and all salaries above £150,000 are fully scrutinised and approved by ministers.’
A spokesman for HS2 Ltd added: ‘In a highly technical project of the scale and complexity of HS2, it is necessary to employ the right level of expertise and knowledge to deliver the programme successfully.’
Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, said: ‘The average total pay for our senior employees decreased this year as we continue to focus on delivering value for passengers, freight customers and taxpayers, while also balancing this priority with the need to pay fair market rates to attract and retain the best talent.’