Page last updated at 13:55 GMT, Sunday, 6 July 2008 14:55 UK

Government accused over bonuses

Ministry of Defence
The Ministry of Defence paid out 41.3m in bonuses in 2007-2008

Ministers are running a "something for nothing" culture in handing civil servants bonuses of 128m , the Conservatives have said.

The 2007-8 figures show the average senior civil servant banked a bonus of more than 7,000, they said.

Top level staff at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport earned the most, at 11,000.

Ministers say average civil service pay is 20,010 and bonuses are widely used in business to reward good work.

But Shadow Treasury chief secretary Philip Hammond said: "Many families who are finding themselves squeezed between stagnant earnings and soaring living costs will be horrified by the use of 128m of taxpayers' money to pay bonuses to civil servants.

"With government failing on so many fronts, this looks like a 'something for nothing' culture."

Data loss

The figures for the last financial year, obtained through Parliamentary questions, show that the Ministry of Defence paid out the most in bonuses at 41.3m.

Bonuses to staff at the Department for Work and Pensions totalled 36.6m, including 3.7m to workers at the soon-to-be-scrapped Child Support Agency.

The average civil service salary is 20,010 and this represents excellent value for money in delivering world class public services
Cabinet Office spokesman

Treasury employees took home 21.7m, of which more than 19m went to staff at HM Revenue and Customs.

Late last year, the agency lost discs containing the personal data of more than 25 million people.

Civil servants at the Home Office were given 5.7m, staff at the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (formerly the DTI) 4.4m, and those at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) 3.9m.

'Widely recognised'

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said the government was on course to have the lowest number of civil service staff since the Second World War and there would be 5% cuts in administration budgets over the next three years.

But he added: "The average civil service salary is 20,010 and this represents excellent value for money in delivering world class public services such as paying benefits, pensions and running employment services.

"These include hard working families that are facing the current difficult economic climate like everyone else. They should be rewarded for their efforts in ensuring our public services continue to improve.

"It is widely recognised in all aspects of business that those people who contribute the most should be rewarded for their effort and the civil service has acknowledged this practice since the late 1980s."

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