Whitehall officials banked at least £42 million in bonuses last year – and the true figure is likely to be much higher, the Daily Mail can reveal.
Civil servants at the Ministry of Defence pocketed the lion’s share of salary top-ups, with the department spending more than £12.2 million on bonus packages.
Bureaucrats on salaries of almost £200,000 were handed cheques for up to £20,000, while up to £25,000 was pocketed by a department boss earning more than £130,000.
Whitehall officials banked at least £42 million in bonuses last year – and the true figure is likely to be much higher, the Daily Mail can reveal. Whitehall buildings are seen above in London
News of hefty bonuses to senior staff – many already on six-figure salaries – will anger taxpayers, most of whom earn a fraction of public sector staff’s lucrative pay packets.
The £42.4 million in bonus packages is thought to be only the tip of the iceberg. The figure is based on 14 responses to Freedom of Information requests asking for details of bonus pay and details – meaning only a third of the Government’s 43 ministerial and non-ministerial departments replied – and details from two annual reports.
The Mail’s investigation shows that the Competition and Markets Authority paid chief operating officer Erik Wilson, who earns up to £135,000 a year, a bonus of up to £25,000.
The watchdog’s chief executive, Andrea Coscelli, who earns between £190,000 and £195,000 – pocketed up to £20,000.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which worked with the Mail in uncovering the figures, criticised the lavish bonus payments and called for the ‘gold-plated bonuses’ to be cut.
Dame’s £170k salary… and a £20k bonus
Ofcom’s new chief executive was handed the largest slice of the Ministry of Housing’s £1.06 million bonus pot last year.
Dame Melanie Dawes, who moved to the broadcasting regulator in February, pocketed between £15,000 and £20,000 on top of her salary as permanent secretary – which, at more than £170,000, already exceeded Boris Johnson’s pay packet.
Ofcom’s new chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes, who moved to the broadcasting regulator in February, pocketed between £15,000 and £20,000 on top of her salary as permanent secretary
The former Whitehall mandarin, 54, also received £23,900 in pension contributions, despite sitting on a pension pot of almost £1 million in 2016/17 – three years before she left the Civil Service.
Six of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s senior civil servants – all on salaries of at least £90,000 – pocketed bonuses worth up to £95,000 combined.
Jeremy Pocklington, who took over from Dame Melanie in March, was also given a bonus of up to £20,000. He is on a salary of between £135,000 and £140,000.
Dame Melanie had been the most senior woman in the Civil Service. She is thought to be on about £315,000 a year as Ofcom chief executive.
Bonuses are awarded to staff based on performance at an individual, team or organisational level and assessed by each department. The Government launched a review of public sector bonuses in 2012 after outrage over pay-outs at bodies such as Royal Bank of Scotland.
Former Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander wrote to all Whitehall departments at the time, asking them to examine their reward structures to ensure only ‘genuine excellence’ is recognised.
Public sector pay was frozen for two years up to 2013, then capped at 1 per cent rises for five more years. In July, pay was increased by up to 3.1 per cent, but workers say they have incurred nearly a decade of real-term pay cuts.
At the end of March, 6,450 Whitehall employees were at ‘senior civil service’ level, up from 4,300 five years earlier.
Their median salary was £81,440 – three times the average across all ranks of £28,180.
The MoD said its payouts were made up of £11.7 million to ‘below senior civil service’ staff and £595,410 to senior staff on ‘standard contracts’.
The figures are likely to infuriate those on the front-line of the Armed Forces whose staff numbers have fallen for nine consecutive years. Many who left cited poor pay as the main reason.
Also topping up civil servants’ pay by thousands was the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which spent £4.3 million on rewarding staff.
The Department for Transport made payouts of almost £9 million, while the Home Office figure was more than £8.1million.
Several bodies would not disclose details of the highest bonus payments, claiming the figures would be published in annual reports.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was unable to provide a total figure, stating bonus payments have ‘not yet been paid in their entirety’.
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs spent almost £2.5 million on bonus payments to more than 5,000 members of staff ‘for both sustained performance and exceptional contributions.’
Mr O’Connell said: ‘Taxpayers will be baffled at the bonuses being handed out to public sector fat cats.
‘People in the private sector are worried enough about keeping their own jobs, let alone the thought that they should fund big bonuses for government officials.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘We are committed to delivering the best value for money. We routinely publish our expenditure to maintain transparency.’