§ Ms. Richardson
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) why London weighting for civil servants has been frozen since April 1988; and when he proposes to increase it to meet the increased cost of living in London;
(2) why his Department has refused to go to arbitration over the question of London weighting for civil servants;
(3) whether he has any plans to abolish London weighting for civil servants; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
The Government have no plans to abolish the London weighting paid to civil servants.
The Government's policy is that pay in London, as elsewhere, should be based on what is required to recruit, retain, and motivate within what is affordable and to target pay to get the best value for taxpayers' money. Since 1988, an additional £87 million has been put into London pay, equivalent to more than a 50 per cent. increase in London weighting, through targeted increases. Recruitment and retention rates have improved significantly since 1988. Against this background, there was no justification for any across-the-board increases in London weighting.
London weighting was last increased on 1 July 1988. Successive Governments have reserved the right not to go to arbitration on issues which raise policy considerations. The 1989 and 1990 claims by the Council of Civil Service Unions raised such considerations in respect of the Government's policies on the targeting of pay and the control of public expenditure. I could not therefore agree to a joint approach to the civil service arbitration tribunal.