The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and I regularly engage with unions on a range of civil service workforce issues, including pay. I most recently met union representatives across the wider public sector last month, and I will meet civil service trade unions on pay for 2019 very shortly.
Since 2010, wages for workers in the civil service have fallen 10% to 13% behind workers in the NHS, local government and the education sector. Despite that, the Cabinet Office has confirmed that any pay rise above 1% will have to come from further cuts in jobs, and in terms and conditions. Is it not time that the Government backed up their claim to be ending austerity by ending it first for their own employees?
As the hon. Gentleman acknowledges, we have removed the 1% pay cap, and it is up to each Department to find efficiency savings and better ways of working to pay for greater pay rises. That is exactly what we have seen. For example, the Foreign Office agreed a deal of 4.6% on average over the course of two years, giving a pay rise but funded properly by efficiency savings.
Will my hon. Friend say whether in the discussions he has been having he has reflected on how much the national living wage will increase from next month, and how many workers that will benefit?
As ever, my right hon. Friend is absolutely correct. In fact, the effect of the national living wage this year is to hand workers a £700 pay rise.
Can the Minister confirm that permanent secretaries agreed a 1% pay offer across the board in Departments last year? Does that not make a mockery of the fact that the Government have 200 separate pay negotiations across the civil service?
As the hon. Gentleman is aware, in respect of lower grades—those below the senior civil service—there is a delegated pay process. The overall framework is set by the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, and it is for individual Departments to decide. We will go through the proper process, and no final decisions have been taken.