The £180,000 head of the Home Office civil servants has said bonuses of £10,000 are “not exactly big bucks” – and should not even be called bonuses.
The top 25% of performers at the Home Office will receive bonuses
Dame Helen Ghosh made the comments in evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, which has previously said senior civil servants should not get bonuses at all.
She told MPs that almost two thirds of senior civil servants in the Home Office pocketed a total of £773,000 in bonuses in 2009/10.
Payments of up to £10,000 were “not exactly big bucks”, she insisted, adding they should not even be called bonuses.
“The average was not exactly big bucks,” Dame Helen said.
“The average was… I think the very maximum for the highest earners was £10,000.”
She defended her comments by saying she was drawing an “analogy” with the private sector.
Dame Helen Ghosh meeting the Queen at an awards ceremony
She went on: “I must say, we are using the term bonuses, what it is is non-consolidated pay.”
A further £300,000 is expected to be paid to the top 25% of performers in 2010/11, she admitted.
Previously, up to 75% of top staff in the senior civil service could be paid a bonus, but that limit fell in 2010/11.
“It is Government policy that the top 25% of performers in the senior civil service may receive bonuses at certain cash caps,” Dame Helen said.
She added the department was also advertising for a new £170,000-a-year head of the UK Border Agency.
He or she would be in line for a £17,500 bonus if they became one of the top performers in 2011/12.