for Public Servants


“I have worked at a research establishment in Scotland for more than 25 years. I work long hours and have accumulated many hundreds of unpaid hours to ensure the work gets done. I usually don’t mind because I love what I am doing. I could retire but the money I will get is not enough to support me. I will therefore continue to work as long as I have a job. To hear that I am overpaid makes me feel very bitter.”


“Typically we employ people as graduates, train them up for a few years, and when they become experienced, they leave for the private sector for a significantly higher salary. This constant churn of staff, due to our low pay compared with the private sector, is starting to significantly erode our defence procurement capabilities, which fundamentally rely on our underpinning research and support.”


“I am a retired civil servant so not directly affected by the 1% pay cap. However, I am affected by deteriorating public services through the best people leaving and the poor morale of those who remain. I worked in vehicle safety and am concerned that road safety will suffer as a result of the cap. Heaven forbid that low morale and lack of resources could result in another incident like the Bath tipper truck crash that killed four people a few years ago, and the Sowerby Bridge lorry tragedy in 1993, because unscrupulous operators are only detected after fatalities.”


“Recruitment at my workplace is extremely difficult when you cannot even closely compete with the private sector. Because of this we have to use contractors who are very expensive and have no long-term commitment to the organisation. There is a vicious cycle here. I have worked here since 2008 and my salary has not kept pace with the cost of living. At some point I will have to leave the civil service along with hundreds of thousands of others because I – and they – can no longer afford to stay.”


“The department I work in has seen many staff resign as a result of the pay cap and take positions in the private sector and local councils. This has placed the remaining staff under great pressure, leading to increased stress and mental health issues. The current pay levels are not sufficient to attract suitably experienced and qualified staff despite weekly job advertisements.”


``I feel committed to a service that gave me a chance, helped me learn and gave me experience in a field that is difficult to get into. However, the continued 1% freeze leaves me feeling undervalued, unappreciated and taken for granted. You cannot rely on employees’ goodwill for ever. I have seen colleagues leave and be much happier. But if everyone does that, who will be left to do this work? I'm just asking for a fair reflection of the work I do, the commitment I show, the responsibility I have. I merely ask that we share the load.``


``This is not just about my salary. It’s about ensuring public services have the best people in the myriad of roles available, and that young people are attracted to and engaged with careers in the public sector. Without that the country is not investing in the education and health of future generations – your children and grandchildren. Technology and infrastructure are increasingly important to maintain our position as a major economic force globally, especially in light of the forthcoming European negotiations. We must invest in the future and provide vibrant opportunities for future generations. And that means investment in our people.``


``Everyone needs to realise that the people affected by pay restraint are carrying out work for the benefit of the public.

Those we serve are entitled to receive services from people qualified to undertake the work and who carry it out efficiently and conscientiously.

Too often, politicians and the media portray the public sector as some sort of cancer in society, draining away valuable resources and not producing anything worthwhile.

This consequently affects the public view of local authority and civil service employees.``

“Our public services need more resources and public servants deserve better treatment”

Mike Clancy, Prospect general secretary

In his inauguration in 1961 President John F Kennedy asked Americans “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” The sentiment of this speech – that citizens have a duty to their fellow citizens, sums up the way many public servants feel about their jobs. They go to work out of a spirit of public service, rather than because of the pay or benefits it brings.

This duty places a responsibility on the rest of society too; to make sure that our public servants are properly and fairly treated at work, have the resources they need to do the job, are paid properly and that their retirements are properly provided for.

In recent years this deal has been put under untenable pressure.

The public sector pay cap has seen public sector pay fall by 15% on average in real terms. Cuts to spending have left many services dangerously short of the people they need to do the job properly.

Prospect union gives voice at work in many skilled professional and specialist roles in the public sector. We are proud of that and will always bang the drum for public services.

And we speak truth to power too, telling politicians that there needs to be a change of direction. Our public services need more resources and public servants deserve better treatment.

With your help, the first step of our plan to speak up for public services is already in place, with thousands of emails on the pay cap sent to MPs.

But ending the cap is only be the first step to building much better public services that the public can rely on and where Prospect members can feel fairly treated once again. Make sure you are part of the campaign by joining Prospect today.

We need your support to put pressure on government

Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary

The hidden jewels of the public service

Sue Ferns, Prospect deputy general secretary


Why we are calling for an independent pay review of our public services

Public servants have seen their take-home pay cut by more than 15 per cent in real terms since 2010. The consequences are a fall in living standards, and increasing financial insecurity and hardship as incomes trail further behind the rising cost of living.

Prospect union wants politicians to commit to using their votes in Parliament to end the unfair and unsustainable cap on pay for public sector worker.

Working for you posters

Two posters highlighting two typical roles our public servants provide in the public interest

Our vision for a modern public service

Our vision for a modern public service and plan for building the workforce that can deliver it

I’m worth more than 1% poster

Public servants need a pay rise – standing up for professionals, managers and specialists

Download our full vision document here