Magazine article Public Finance

Rules on Prison Officer Pay Broken Three Times

Magazine article Public Finance

Rules on Prison Officer Pay Broken Three Times

Article excerpt

The Ministry of Justice three times breached Treasury guidelines in errors over prison offi cers' pay.

Treasury offi cials have refused retrospective permission for the MoJ's action.

The breaches were admitted in the annual report of the National Off ender Management Service, since renamed HM Prison and Probation Service.

It said recruitment and retention problems had led to increases of £5 per hour for overtime and incident response payments between September 2016 and March 2017.

This "inadvertently breached government pay policy due to a misinterpretation of HM Treasury guidelines and insuffi cient coordination between HR and fi nance within the department to ensure compliance with HM Treasury pay policy," its report said.

In February 2017 adjustments were made to allowances for new prison offi cers at prisons with the greatest recruitment and retention diffi culties. These were then also paid to existing offi cers to avoid detriment.

"The application of the additional allowances to existing staff was a further inadvertent breach of government pay policy, which occurred again due to the misunderstanding of Treasury guidelines," the MoJ admitted.

Its third breach came when an initiative to develop a new advanced prison offi cer role was announced in February 2017 before Treasury approval was secured.

When the breaches became clear, permanent secretary Richard Heaton commissioned an internal audit review. After this, the MoJ submitted a business case for retrospective approval from the Treasury, but the latter refused to agree this.

An MoJ statement said: "Th ese changes were made in response to acute operational issues, to boost staffing levels across the service and retain staff . …

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