Whitehall bureaucrats, many involved in the implementation of punitive welfare cuts, were showered with more than £90 million in performance related bonuses last year.
According to figures obtained by the Huffington Post UK, a dozen Government departments handed out £89.4 million in bonuses to staff.
The true extent could be as high as £140 million, because the figures only account for 12 of the Government’s 20 departments – potentially averaging almost £7 million per department.
£42.1 million of this “bonus bonanza” was gifted to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff, with £38.1 million awarded to Senior Civil Servants.
Labour MP Andrew Gwynne criticised the Government for splashing the cash at a time when they continue to talk about “belt-tightening”.
“Whilst the NHS is in crisis, this bonus bonanza would pay for thousands of new nurses”, she added.
Former Treasury minister Danny Alexander vowed to end bonuses for “run of the mill performance” in 2012, as the coalition Government ruthlessly slashed departmental budgets.
Since 2010-11 the Government says it has restricted awards for senior civil servants to the “top 25 per cent of performers.”
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services, said the bonus system should be acrapped.
“It is unfair and favours the already well paid” he said.
“The money should be put towards decent pay rises, especially considering that since 2010 rank and file civil servants have seen their real incomes fall by 20 per cent.”
The Prospect union defended civil service workers and claimed the talk about bonuses was a “distraction” from the drop in take home pay of many civil servants.
Deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: “Pay in the private sector is increasingly buoyant with average increases running at more than 3.5 per cent.
“Civil servants have been told that average increases will be capped at 1 per cent until 2020.
“Pay rates in the private sector outstrip those of the public sector – and that gap is only forecast to increase, creating real problems in recruiting and retaining staff, particularly the professional specialists and managers Prospect represents.
“Many, if not all of our members would happily forgo the opportunity to earn a bonus in return for a decent and fair increase to their base pay.
“Government has created the bonus culture in the civil service, not the staff. And only 1 per cent of the civil service paybill is spent on bonuses.”
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said “the increase in individual payouts will raise eyebrows”, but welcomed the fact “that the overall bill has come down”.
He added: “The most important thing though is to ensure that bonuses are paid out to staff who have performed exceptionally well, rather than handed out as a matter of course to top up pay.”
Work and Pensions Minister Justin Tomlinson said: “In line with Civil Service pay guidance, DWP rewards employees for their performance through either end of year non-consolidated payments and/or in-year payments.”
“In year payments are limited to 0.23 per cent of the total DWP paybill.”
He added: “Employees who have attained agreed performance levels as part of their performance review may receive an end of year non-consolidated payment based on their grade and end of year performance marking.
“End of year payments are limited to 1.9 per cent of the total DWP paybill.”
We can’t help wondering what indicators are used to measure “performance,” and what actually constitutes “good performance”?