Procurement specialists paid less than majority of professions

posted by Jonathan Owen
16 August 2019

Procurement professionals are paid less than their colleagues in the majority of other professions in the civil service, according to new data released by the Cabinet Office.

The figures reveal that the commercial profession, which includes officials working in procurement and related roles, pays a median salary of £35,820.

While this is significantly higher than the civil service average of £27,080 it places procurement in the bottom half of functions in terms of pay - coming 17th out of 29 professions.

The latest civil service statistics 2019 represent data on 430,000 civil servants and include data on median salaries by profession for the first time.

There are more than 4,500 commercial specialists across the civil service, who deliver and support procurement and contract management, analyse markets and develop commercial strategy.

Planning inspectors have the highest median salary, at £56,350, followed by civil servants in legal and economics roles, whose median salaries are £53,580 and £50,000 respectively.

At the bottom of the pay table are civil servants working in operational delivery, who are paid an average of £24,480. Counter fraud officials get a median salary of £26,120, while those working in security are paid £26,160.

The statistics, released late last month, exclude the Northern Ireland Civil Service, other Crown servants and people working in the wider public sector, such as non-departmental public bodies and the National Health Service.

Commenting on the new data, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Our approach to pay helps us attract and retain the very best staff while delivering value for money for the taxpayer."

And Scott Dance, director of Hays procurement & supply chain, told SM: “Considering the new data from the cabinet office, it can be difficult to determine an average salary for procurement professionals if this data includes other related roles.”

He said: “Depending on the roles and responsibilities, salaries across the profession can differ, and in our Hays Salary Guide for example we provide a salary range per each role, across different regions.”

Procurement professionals are in demand across a range of industries, Dance added.

He said: “There is strength in the public sector as 72% of respondents reported a salary increase in the last year. One driver for the salary rises is the number of change and transformation projects taking place.

“As a result, we are seeing employers in this sector hiring experienced professionals from the private sector to take on such projects, creating inflated salaries to secure this talent.”

The median salary for civil servants in the commercial profession is significantly lower than the UK average of £45,159 in this year’s CIPS/Hays procurement salary guide.

Although the guide does not have a breakdown for civil servants, it reveals a pay gap between the private and public sectors. Those in the private sector earn an average of £46,432 while their peers in the public sector are paid £42,278.

When it comes to government, there is a premium for those working in Whitehall, with the average salary in central government £46,768 - compared with £41,340 in local councils.

Gareth Rhys Williams, the government’s chief commercial officer, has previously remarked that civil service pay for commercial staff has fallen behind the marketplace in recent years.

In an interview with SM in 2017 he stated: “This was partly because of the public sector pay structure, but also because in the external market everyone is racing to improve the calibre of their commercial people because they can see the value that it generates.”

Senior civil servants in commercial profession are paid through the Government Communication Organisation. 

“The deal we have, which is broadly similar to the deal of the existing civil service terms, is higher pay, a higher potential bonus up to 20%, and offset by a lower pension,” he added. 

Yet concerns over the level of procurement pay persist. In April this year a report by the think tank Public called on the UK government to bring in performance-related pay and a bonus scheme for procurement staff at all levels.

“In general public sector buyers are not rewarded either financially or through career progression for procuring innovation,” it warned.

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