Judges set for 15% pay rise to tackle recruitment crisis
The proposed rise, which has been approved by ministers, emerged in court papers yesterday.
The 106 High Court judges receive £179,768 a year. The increase, to take effect from April, will add between £21,572.16 and £26,965.20 to that.
The rise is designed to tackle a recruitment crisis and will cost taxpayers between about £2.5 million and £3 million extra when the public sector faces an average 1 per cent pay increase.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The sheer scale of this pay rise is bound to raise questions as colleagues across the public sector face only a modest pay rise — if they are lucky. To families struggling with rising bills, a pay rise of this magnitude will be unthinkable.”
Christina McAnea, head of health at the union Unison, said: “NHS staff will be hoping this signals an end to the government’s squeeze on pay. Health and other public service employees’ wages have been frozen or capped for years, causing real financial hardship.”
Details of the pay rise emerged at a tribunal where six judges are suing Liz Truss, the lord chancellor, and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) over changes to their pension scheme.
Michael Beloff, QC, acting for the judges, claimed that the pay rise was to compensate High Court judges for the £25,000 tax charge they suffered by having to move into a new pension scheme which “significantly depressed their income”. He told the central London employment tribunal it was “irrelevant” that there may be a need to curb public spending or that judicial pensions were higher than those of other public sector workers.
For the first time judges have to contribute to their pensions under reforms that they say will cut their pension pot by 25 per cent over 20 years. Judges born after 1957 are hit hardest as they lose their original pension rights and have to join a far less favourable scheme along civil service pension lines.
The claimants are Sir Nicholas Mostyn, 59, Sir Roderick Newton, 58, Sir Philip Moor, 57, Dame Lucy Theis, 56, Sir Richard Arnold, 55, and Sir Rabinder Singh, 52.
They claim that the pension scheme, introduced in April last year, penalises them on the basis of their age and in some cases on race and sex.
Mr Beloff said judges within ten years of retirement were protected from the changes, whereas the younger set were exposed to the “highly disadvantageous” scheme. The question for the tribunal is why one group of High Court judges (the younger ones), doing the same work, has been treated differently and less favourably than another, “simply because of their date of birth”.
Lord Thomas of Cymgiedd, lord chief justice, recently warned of the recruitment crisis, with High Court vacancies left unfilled. He said judges had been affected by successive years of pay restraint and a “very significant fall in pay and pensions in real terms”.
Martin Chamberlain, QC, for the lord chancellor and the MoJ, said there was no constitutional principle requiring sitting judges to be insulated from adverse pension changes when other public servants were not
What they earn
Lord chief justice of England and Wales £249,583
President of the Supreme Court £222,862
Court of Appeal judges £204,695
High court judges £179,768
Circuit judges £133,506
District judges £107,100
First-tier tribunal judges £107,100