The Treasury has been criticised for underpaying tech staff after advertising for a head of cyber security on a starting salary of just £50,000.
Ciaran Martin, founder of the National Cyber Security Centre, a division of GCHQ, said the Government needed to have “a grown up conversation” about salaries after the senior tech vacancy was mocked on social media.
The posting for the head of cyber security role at the Treasury offered a salary of between £50,550 and £57,500, which is far below industry norms. A Twitter user compared the Treasury role with an identical one at "a trading company no-one has ever heard of", which offered a starting salary of £450,000.
The position involves responsibility for protecting one of the Government's most sensitive departments and carries the same level of responsibility as a major general in the British Army, according to official guidance.
A major general’s salary starts from £120,000.
Mr Martin said: "We need a grown up conversation about this. Why do deeply expert technical people work for the Singaporean government? Because it pays them really well.”
Mid-ranking civil servants are paid an average of £55,720 in Singapore, compared with £30,110 in the UK.
Mr Martin added: “There are loads of things, especially but not only confined to tech, where the Government needs specialist skills.
"It's something Dominic Cummings was big on and right about... unless [government] makes exemptions, it's stuck with civil service pay scales."
Mr Martin was GCHQ's head of cyber security before setting up the NCSC in 2016.
He said: “This is a difficult choice for a society to make. The Treasury will - rightly - argue that it's the thin end of the wedge.”
Tom Lysemose Hansen, co-founder of Norwegian cyber security company Promon, said: “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
“Comparative jobs in the private sector are paying five to seven times this salary; and frankly, this gives the impression that the British government isn't taking its cybersecurity seriously."
The Treasury’s advertisement described the job as "an exciting and meaningful opportunity to work on cyber security at the heart of Government in a time of momentous change".
Figures from jobs board Indeed suggested that the salary for a director of information security averaged £80,000.
An HM Treasury spokesman said: “Pay must be affordable and fair so that it delivers value for the taxpayer while recognising the importance of talent.
“The wider remuneration package for this role contains a generous public sector pension entitlement, a substantial potential allowance and access to other benefits.”
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