Dominic Cummings: Downing Street defends £40k pay rise for Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser

Boris Johnson’s press secretary has defended the prime minister’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings getting a pay rise of at least £40,000 before he left Downing Street.

Allegra Stratton said the increase took his salary to the “correct level” for the role he held at that time.

It was revealed in an annual report on government special advisers’ pay released on Tuesday that Mr Cummings was paid between £140,000 and £144,999 a year.

This put him among the top earners in Number 10 before his departure last month, which followed a bitter power struggle among Mr Johnson‘s top staff.

And it also showed that Mr Cummings received a pay hike in the last 12 months, with last year’s report on special advisers’ pay having revealed he was previously on a salary of between £95,000 and £99,999.

“This was a matter for the Cabinet Office special adviser pay committee, that’s where the decisions are taken,” Ms Stratton said.

“It’s the case that Dominic Cummings’ revised salary reflected the fact that up until his departure he was one of, if not the most, important special adviser.

“And the new salary he received was in line with the salary chiefs of staff and people of that rank receive.

“It was not that his new salary took him over and above what you would expect for the kind of role he performed.

“It’s the correct level of salary for the role that Dominic Cummings performed.”

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the “bumper bonus” was an “insult to key workers denied the pay rise they deserve”.

She added: “It’s another example of how under this government it is one rule for the Tory party and their friends and another for the rest of us.”

The pay rise came after Mr Cummings helped the PM win an 80-seat majority in last year’s general election.

But his position in Number 10 came under scrutiny after he was accused of breaking coronavirus rules by travelling from London to the North East at the height of England’s first lockdown.

Mr Cummings explained a further trip to Barnard Castle by saying he needed to test his eyesight before driving back to London.

Mr Johnson stood by his chief aide at the time, despite coming under pressure to sack him.

Mr Cummings left Number 10 in November after disagreements between Downing Street’s top political appointees.

His exit followed shortly after that of his close ally Lee Cain, the prime minister’s former director of communications.

In a footnote to this year’s annual report on special advisers’ pay, it was stated Mr Cain and Mr Cummings are “in the process of leaving their government posts” – although neither have been seen in Number 10 since last month.

Mr Cain was also on a salary of between £140,000 and £144,999, which is the same level as the prime minister’s acting chief of staff, Sir Edward Lister, and the man who will take on the chief of staff role from 1 January, Dan Rosenfield.

Ms Stratton, a former journalist, is paid between £125,000 and £129,999, the annual report said.

This is the same as the UK’s chief negotiator for Brexit trade talks, Lord Frost.

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