In Brief

Government’s £2.7m bill for payouts to sacked advisers triggers fury

Civil servants’ union accuses Boris Johnson’s administration of ‘breathtaking hypocrisy’ in spending on staff

Downing Street has paid out £2.7m to get rid of government advisors over the past year, newly published figures reveal.

The hefty bill for severance payouts between April 2019 and March 2020 is buried in a report from the Cabinet Office and represents a massive increase from equivalent costs the previous year of just £208,000.

The report says that the turnover of staff in 2019 was unusually high because of the general election and the change of administrations when Boris Johnson replaced Theresa May as prime minister.

Despite that justification, the massive payouts bill has triggered widespread outrage. 

And this anger has been fuelled by the revelation that Dominic Cummings was given a pay hike of at least 40% in the year before he quit No. 10. The new report shows that Boris Johnson’s controversial former chief adviser, who officially leaves government this month, saw his salary rise from the £95,000-£100,000 pay bracket to £140,000-£145,000 in 2019-20.

New of Cummings’ “inflation-busting pay increase” comes “just weeks after Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak told around two million teachers, police officers, firefighters, social workers and other public sector staff who have kept the country running through the pandemic their pay would be frozen”, says the Daily Mirror.

Dave Penman, head of the FDA union for senior civil servants, told the Financial Times that the decision to give Cummings a pay rise “displayed breathtaking hypocrisy” by the Johnson government.

“Only a few months ago, ministers were on their doorsteps applauding key workers, now they’re lecturing them about targeting resources at those who need it most whilst hiking the pay of their own advisers,” he said.

Some of Cummings former colleagues are equally disgusted, with one telling The Times that  the pay rise “makes me want to throw myself in literally any ocean”.

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