Mandarin millionaires: TaxPayers' Alliance reveals the size of Whitehall bosses' pension pots

Embargoed: 00:01 Monday 16th December

With the election now over, some senior mandarins may be considering a career move. New research by the TaxPayers' Alliance shows that permanent secretaries, who head up UK government departments, are securing guaranteed bumper pay-packets for life via their pension pots.

Of these rankings bureaucrats, 13 have pots worth over £1 million, and top mandarins will on average receive £57,717 a year during retirement, roughly double the UK average salary.

Senior civil servants already earn top wages, and these pension pots are beyond the wildest dreams of the taxpayers who are paying for them. They particularly stand out given that final salary schemes have all but disappeared in the private sector.

Click here to read the research paper

Key findings

  • The 23 individuals who run UK government departments had an average pension pot of £1,065,522 in 2018-19.

  • 13 had pension pots worth more than £1 million.

  • The mandarin with the largest pension pot was Simon McDonald, head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. His pension pot is currently valued at £2,055,000.

  • The average pension upon retirement will be £57,717 per annum. This is 94 per cent more than the average gross UK salary in 2018 (£29,817).

  • 15 of the departmental heads will receive a lump sum upon retirement. The average value of this is £148,167.

  • The top mandarins with the largest annual pensions are Simon McDonald, Clare Moriarty, and Mark Sedwill, the heads of the Foreign Office, Department for Exiting the European Union and Cabinet Secretary respectively. They will have a pension of at least £85,000 to £90,000 a year.

Click here to read the research paper

Duncan Simpson, Research Director at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

“Lavish pensions for senior public servants stand out as a sumptuous perk of Whitehall life that continues to survive, despite typical taxpayers seeing their own savings squeezed.

"It seems unjust that annual pension payments for the civil service top brass will be worth almost double the average salary.

“Politicians need to put an end to the Whitehall pensions racket once and for all by implementing real reforms that make them affordable for taxpayers who don't get gold-plated perks.”

TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

Sam Packer
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at
  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.


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