The annual public sector payroll in Northern Ireland has risen sharply to almost £1 billion, the Sunday Independent has learned.
Last year, the amount paid to permanent staff in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) totaled £994million – a jump of £200million in payroll over the past five years.
But the new figures don’t include the cost of hiring temporary workers – meaning the total NICS payroll could be much higher.
A NICS hiring freeze was introduced in 2015 in the face of “significant budgetary pressures”, but new civil service staff were recruited again the following year.
The NICS is made up of staff in 10 government departments, as well as staff from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland, the Office of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS).
Figures released by the Department of Treasury (DoF) following a Freedom of Information request show monies spent paying NICS employees over the past six fiscal years.
The money paid out includes salaries, allowances, overtime pay and bonuses. However, the numbers, which include only permanent staff, exclude NIPS prison staff.
In 2016/17 total NICS payroll was £793,847,990. That number has increased every year since, and the total for the 2021/22 financial year was £994,650,288.
The information released by the DoF also shows the number of new employees NICS has hired over the past six years.
A total of 163 new employees were hired in the public sector in the 2016/17 financial year. Since 2016, the number of newcomers to NICS has increased continuously.
In 2017/18, 355 new civil servants were hired, with a further 395 joining the organization the following year.
With 746 new hires at NICS, the recruitment rate has almost doubled in 2019/20.
In 2020/21, another 805 new employees started work at NICS, and last year this number doubled again to 1,612.
Almost 700 of the new hires in 2021/22 were employed in the Office for Community Affairs. Other departments that welcomed significant numbers of new staff over the past year were the DoF (248) and the Department of Justice (169).
The new figures show that the large number of new staff added £30million to NICS payroll last year.
As of March 2021, the average salary for a NICS employee was £28,422, according to DoF figures. At the same time, 36 NICS staff received more than £100,000 a year.
The increase in the number of new staff hired by NICS in recent years has followed an attempt to reduce the workforce in the public sector.
A NICS-wide voluntary exit program was launched in March 2015 and nearly 3,000 employees left the company at an estimated cost of £90m in severance packages.
A report released in November 2020 by the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) states that if the public service is to successfully meet challenges and deliver value for money, it needs to transform the way it schedules, recruits and manages its workforce. relationship wants to offer.
In the report, Comptroller and Auditor General Kieran Donnelly said: “It is important to recognize that Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) staff have continued to provide vital services to the people of Northern Ireland amid unprecedented challenging circumstances, including preparing for the Brexit from the European Union and the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“However, NICS is now at a critical crossroads and is struggling to provide ‘business-as-usual’ services.”
That Sunday independent asked the Department of Defense what steps had been taken to address the issues raised in the NIAO report.
In response, a spokesman said a “fundamental review” of NICS’ hiring policy was underway, covering all methods of filling vacancies and pathways into the civil service.
“The review supports NICS’ efforts to open employment opportunities within the organization,” the spokesman said.
“To diversify the NICS workforce and attract new talent, high-volume open recruitment has catered for critical NICS grades over the past two years, with job-specific appointments and job adjustments.
“Additional apprenticeship programs, internships and employability preparation initiatives for those furthest from the labor market have been created, with the number of student internships on offer doubling and hiring for a newly developed graduate management program to begin in early September.”
The DoF spokesman said there are currently 200 “active recruitment competitions” in the public sector.
https://www.independent.ie/news/wage-bill-for-civil-servants-in-northern-ireland-hits-1bn-41910527.html The wage bill for civil servants in Northern Ireland hits £1 billion