MPs to vote on civil service payoffs

MPs will vote today on Government plans to place a cap on Civil Service redundancy pay, which unions claim could leave thousands of low-paid workers out of pocket as they lose their jobs in the coming months.

The Superannuation Bill, which receives its second reading in the House of Commons today, would cap payoffs at one year's salary or 15 months for voluntary redundancies. At present, civil servants can get three years' salary, with those recruited before 1987 entitled to as much as six years.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said the Government had a "duty to the taxpayer" to change a system which is far more generous than schemes elsewhere in the public and private sectors.

But the Public and Commercial Services union threatened to challenge the move in court, accusing the Government of trying to tear up workers' contractual rights at a time when they are most vulnerable.

Negotiations on reform to the system under the previous Labour administration were blocked after 18 months when the PCS won a legal challenge in the High Court.

Mr Maude insisted that the proposed change would help protect low-paid workers, by making it affordable for the Government to remove senior executives on high salaries, who would otherwise be too expensive to sack.

Thousands of Civil Service posts are expected to be scrapped in the period after next month's spending review, as Whitehall department budgets are cut by an average 25% as part of the Government's bid to pay down the bulk of Britain's state deficit within five years.

Mr Maude told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "We want there to be a proper agreed long-term settlement here, and particularly one that gives proper protection for low-paid workers.

"The real mischief of the way the system works at the moment is that, because it is so incredibly expensive - out of all proportion expensive - for the Government to make redundant very senior people who have been there for a long time, the result is that, when savings have to be made... more lower-paid workers will lose their jobs, because frankly they are the ones who are cheaper to make redundant.

"We want something that gives real protection to lower-paid workers, who actually get discriminated against at the moment."

Mr Maude accepted that the change would not be popular among civil servants: "No-one likes changes that make their own position less satisfactory."

But he said the current system was far more generous than the statutory redundancy payments available to most low-paid people in the private sector, which are no more than 32 weeks' pay capped at £380 a week - the equivalent of around £11,000.

Civil servants' present arrangements were "completely out of kilter with anything in the rest of the public sector, let alone the private sector", said Mr Maude, adding: "We have a duty to the taxpayer."

But PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said his union would challenge the Bill in court.

He said only a "handful" of civil servants enjoyed the full pre-1987 redundancy arrangements, and many low-paid workers would lose out under the Government's proposals.

"This is really about low-paid civil servants whose jobs are more vulnerable than at any other time that I can remember being told that the Government is going to slash their contractual terms, even though the High Court has twice found that it is illegal to do so when the previous government tried to do it," Mr Serwotka told Today.

"Yes, this is a package that is more generous than others, but historically the reason for that is that Civil Service pay for comparable jobs is lower than other parts of the public sector or the private sector.

"It is an outrage that the Government is abusing its position as an employer of civil servants. What it should do is sit down and negotiate with trade unions on a new scheme that is compatible with age discrimination legislation, but one that recognises that twice in the High Court a judge has said that you can't remove people's accrued rights without the agreement of the union."

Negotiations which were currently under way over redundancy pay were not "genuine" because the Government was "holding a gun to unions' heads" by rushing the legislation through Parliament in order to impose the less generous terms within months, said Mr Serwotka.

Labour's Tessa Jowell said: "We all believe that the Civil Service Compensation Scheme needs to be reformed and that its costs need to be reduced. But reform needs to be fair.

"The Superannuation Bill fails to meet this test. It provides inadequate protection for some of the lowest-paid and longest-serving public sector workers.

"In putting it forward, the Government have acted unilaterally without consulting their employees, seeking to circumvent proper parliamentary scrutiny.

"No protection is offered for the lowest-paid, with a junior official in a job centre receiving no more assistance than a permanent secretary of a Government department.

"We believe that the principles of the February 2010 scheme, introduced by the previous Government, provided a basis for a fair way forward. This would make a substantial contribution towards tackling the deficit, while ensuring that the reasonable expectations of Civil Service staff, particularly the lowest-paid, are met."

Labour's Tessa Jowell said: "We all believe that the Civil Service Compensation Scheme needs to be reformed and that its costs need to be reduced. But reform needs to be fair.

"The Superannuation Bill fails to meet this test. It provides inadequate protection for some of the lowest-paid and longest-serving public sector workers.

"In putting it forward, the Government have acted unilaterally without consulting their employees, seeking to circumvent proper parliamentary scrutiny.

"No protection is offered for the lowest-paid, with a junior official in a job centre receiving no more assistance than a permanent secretary of a Government department.

"We believe that the principles of the February 2010 scheme, introduced by the previous Government, provided a basis for a fair way forward. This would make a substantial contribution towards tackling the deficit, while ensuring that the reasonable expectations of Civil Service staff, particularly the lowest-paid, are met."

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup