Reforms piloted to link pay to results in the Civil Service

New measures to improve performance and ensure the civil service can recruit and retain the best talent were announced this morning by Minister for the Cabinet Office, John Glen at the Reform Think Tank Annual Conference at the BT Tower in London

In the second of a series of speeches on Civil Service reform, the Minister set his focus on performance management, attracting the best from the private sector and ensuring that Civil Servants are backed to deliver for the British public.  

Plans to encourage and reward those that deliver high quality public services were unveiled with a new pilot to test milestone based pay - where certain Senior Civil Service (SCS) staff would be rewarded for delivery of pre-agreed milestones for projects they manage.

 The plans will ensure that pay and reward is more closely aligned to how staff are performing and delivering for the public.

This new approach would also support recruitment in priority areas – making reward packages more attractive to potential new hires, without increasing basic salaries to ensure public resources are spent carefully.

It also aims to encourage SCS staff to remain in post for the whole of the project, helping to tackle Whitehall churn at the senior level, and ensuring that there is full accountability for a project’s long term results.

 The new system is being delivered at pace and pilots will begin in the Summer.

The Government has set out its plan to deliver on people’s priorities, and today’s announcement will deliver on these.

Minister for the Cabinet Office John Glen said:

"To build a world-class Civil Service that truly delivers for the public, we must start with the people.

"We need to recruit the brightest minds, ensure they have the tools and skills to succeed, and take swift action when performance falls below expected standards.

"The measures I’ve set out today will help to meet today’s productivity challenge head on, building a resilient and high performing Civil Service that is fit for the future."

The Minister also announced a review of the external-by-default recruitment policy for SCS roles, which ensures that all senior roles are open to external applicants unless there is a genuine reason not to do so – enhancing competition.

The Civil Service Commission will monitor data on SCS recruitment, to ensure the policy is being implemented and that any exceptions are properly justified and do not undermine efforts to bring external expertise into senior leadership roles.

Building on plans unveiled in his speech in January to tackle poor performance, the Minister announced that work to improve the performance management system for SCS staff is well underway and will conclude in June.  

Work has also begun to gather data and insight across departments on the current performance management situation across the Civil Service, with a view to looking at what works, and crucially where changes are needed. 

Today’s announcement builds on measures set out by the Chancellor to increase Government efficiency by capping Civil Service headcount and reducing staffing numbers to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the next spending review.  

This will enable the government to channel resources where they are most needed, for example increasing defence spending and sending vital aid to Ukraine.

Additional measures and updates announced today include:

  • Part of the SCS Strategy, a new pathway will be delivered to recruit external technical specialists at a senior level to the Civil Service. Those recruited under the pathway will not have all the same responsibilities that come with a traditional SCS level role, including line management responsibilities. This is designed to ensure their focus remains on driving innovation and transformation. 

  • Work to automate recruitment processes has shown promising results, with over 2400 working hours saved since some pre-employment processes were automated, and more identified to be automated in the next 12 months.

From: Cabinet Office and The Rt Hon John Glen MP