Prospect urges members to write to their MPs about compensation scheme changes

Prospect urges members to write to their MPs about compensation scheme changes

Thousands of Prospect members will be penalised by government proposals to worsen their redundancy entitlements – just six years after agreeing changes that the government said were "right for the long term"

money maze

Prospect has been engaged in discussions with ministers and officials about potential changes to the redundancy compensation payable under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS) in light of consultations on this subject undertaken by the Treasury and Cabinet Office earlier this year.

Prospect responded to both the Treasury and Cabinet Office consultations on behalf of all members; hundreds of Prospect members also submitted individual responses.

The consultation documents proposed:

  • reductions in the tariff (from one month’s pay per year of service to three weeks)
  • a lower cap on compensation (from 21 months’ pay to 12 months on voluntary redundancy terms) and
  • restricting the ability to draw an unreduced pension on redundancy.

Such cuts would represent a further attack on members’ terms and conditions. It is particularly unfortunate that they were first proposed in the 2015 spending review which also implied tens of thousands of job losses across the public sector.

The 2010 agreement on reform of the CSCS, that Prospect members voted to accept, and that the then Conservative minister described as “fair for civil servants and fair for other taxpayers”, would be unilaterally ripped up if changes like these are imposed.

Prospect is negotiating with ministers with the aim of reaching an agreement on an acceptable level of redundancy compensation. Any agreement would be put to Prospect members in a ballot.

Members can support Prospect’s efforts to secure improvements to the terms offered by writing to their MPs.

Why you should write to your MP

The final proposals will have a significant impact on redundancy compensation and, given the scale of job cuts expected in the next few years, thousands of Prospect members will be directly affected by any cuts.

Members are urged to support our campaign by undertaking a number of actions.

Direct pressure on MPs, from constituents affected by the proposals, is the best way of securing improvements. We have seen the impact that lobbying by Prospect members has had on a number of issues in the past – it can make a big difference.

We are asking members to write to their MP to ask them to oppose unfair and counterproductive cuts to redundancy compensation.

A small effort at this time could make a huge difference to the redundancy lump sum or pension members receive in the event of redundancy.

This is something that will face thousands of Prospect members and others in the next few years.

Please talk to colleagues who are not in Prospect about the value of taking this action now and please share this briefing with them.

How to write to your MP

Use this link to find your local MP’s contact details:

MPs are busy so a short letter is usually most effective (one or two sides of A4 are more than enough).

Your own letter in your own words describing how an issue impacts on you personally will carry most weight.

Advice on the points to cover is provided below. If you are too busy to draft your own letter a model letter that you can copy and paste is also provided, but this will be much less effective.

It is important to ask for a specific action to give a focus to your letter. In this case we are asking members to ask their MP to write to the minister about this.

Only write to your own MP and remember to include your full name and address so they know you are a constituent.

What a letter should cover

It is always useful to explain what you and your colleagues do, why it matters and the challenges you face in your role.

It would also be useful to explain why this issue is important to you and the impact it might have on you and your family.

It would be particularly helpful to mention any recent or planned redundancy exercises by your employer.

Describe the savings delivered to taxpayers and also the pressure on those who remain to deliver the service.

There are a number of general points you can make to your MP about the proposals.

  • Redundancy compensation in the civil service and related employers is set by the terms of the CSCS. The current terms were reformed in 2010 after negotiations between the then minister for the civil service (Francis Maude MP) and a number of civil service trade unions. The minister described the outcome as being “fair for civil servants and fair for other taxpayers”.
  • Francis Maude went on to refer to the reformed CSCS as “a scheme which is fair, protects those who need the most support, addresses the inequities in the current system and is right for the long term”.
  • A subsequent NAO report found that departures under the reformed terms cost 40-50% less than the previous terms. Despite this reduction in the value of compensation, more than 90% of Prospect members who participated in the ballot voted to accept the agreed terms. It is wrong for the government to unilaterally renege on the agreement so soon after it was made.
  • Civil servants and other public sector workers are facing a series of attacks on their terms and conditions and these proposals to cut redundancy compensation seem like the opening of yet another front.
  • By the end of this parliament public sector workers will have endured over a decade of pay restraint. Many will have experienced not just real terms pay cuts, but actual nominal reductions in take home pay when pension contribution increases imposed between 2012 and 2014 and National Insurance changes are taken into account.
  • Office and site closures and spending cuts mean that tens of thousands more public sector workers face redundancy over the next few years, so the timing of the proposals to further cut redundancy compensation are particularly provocative.
  • Those left in post face huge challenges to maintain services with fewer resources. The combined effect of these and other attacks give public servants the impression that they and their terms and conditions are under constant siege by their employer.
  • Prospect members are reasonable and prepared to have a dialogue about reforming redundancy compensation in order to allow efficient restructuring of public sector workforces and to deliver significant savings to taxpayers.
  • Members proved this in the way they engaged with the 2010 reforms and ultimately voted in favour of terms that represented a significant reduction in the value of their compensation.
  • Government has to show that it is interested in having meaningful negotiation about changes that meet its objectives rather than unilaterally imposing changes to the terms of the CSCS. The latter approach would result in serious industrial relations problems.
  • There is a lack of any evidence to support the government’s claims about its proposals. In fact the proposals could result in significant practical difficulties with employers finding their ability to refresh management structures and their skills’ base seriously impacted by the proposed changes to the terms.
  • There are no practical proposals for managing redundancy exercises more efficiently.

It is important to add a specific request for action:

Please write to Matthew Hancock MP, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, to acknowledge the positive role Prospect members have played to date and to stress the need for meaningful negotiation and the importance of reaching an agreement on reforms to the CSCS.