Cabinet ministers have approved hefty pay rises for their own special advisers while freezing the pay of millions of other civil servants and public sector workers, official figures have revealed.
The rises – which in some cases were as high as 36 per cent – were condemned as outrageous last night by civil service unions and the Labour party.
The news follows a decision last week by Jeremy Hunt to refuse an across-the-board pay rise to hundreds of thousands of NHS staff. The move means that NHS workers and many others in the public sector will now face a fourth year of below-inflation rises.
Marc Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union said: “The fact that low-paid civil servants have had their wages cut for successive years while political advisers are getting pay rises tells us everything that we need to know about this government and its priorities. It’s an absolute disgrace.”
Last year David Cameron’s own chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, received a 12% increase, from £125,000 to £140,000, which means he now earns more than double the £66,396 salary of an MP.
Similarly two special advisers to Home Secretary Theresa May were bumped up last year by 14% from £65,000 to £74,000.
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said that any pay increases would have to have been approved by a special committee – chaired by the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.
Chi Onwurah MP, shadow cabinet office minister, said: “The government has singled out nurses and thousands of other health workers not to receive a 1% pay rise, but at the same time ministers are happy to sign off on massive wage increases for their political advisers.
“David Cameron has already broken his promise to limit the number of special advisers, and now many of them are getting bumper pay rises. It beggars belief.”
The coalition have previously promised to clamp down on the number of special advisers but their numbers have risen significantly since 2010.