Met Office in the Media: 12 January 2012

There have been stories in the media today incorrectly suggesting that Met Office staff have been awarded “bonuses” for performance over the last year despite what has been reported as “dramatic mistakes” being made. This is simply not the case.  Here, we provide a little more detail behind this story.

Firstly, in line with Civil Service reward principles, performance related pay is an integral part of the Met Office’s total reward structure. This is withheld pay which can only be earned in a given year by meeting key corporate, team and personal performance measures.

In 2010/11 the Met Office exceeded all of its business performance measures and targets, including measures on forecast accuracy and business profitability. This means that a greater proportion of the performance related pay budget was earned by staff in comparison to the previous year.

In terms of the corporate performance related pay, this translates to an additional  £110 per person (a change of £765 in 2009/10 to £875 in 2010/11). The rest of the addition comes in the payment of team and personal performance related payments paid on individual or team performance.

In the last financial year, despite difficult economic conditions, we returned £8.2M (up from £4.5M in 2009/10) dividend back to MoD (and therefore back to the UK taxpayer). The Met Office has also grown its commercial revenue streams, increasing by £2.9M to £32.2M. Research has shown that for every £1 invested in the Met Office, we return £7.40 back to the UK economy – as well as saving numerous lives every year with our forecasts.

In addition, suggestions that we “got the weather dramatically wrong” or have made “dramatic mistakes” are totally incorrect.

The Met Office did not predict a mild winter last winter – we provided a long-range forecast to the Cabinet Office at the end of October highlighting the risk of a cold start to the winter. This forecast is used by government officials across the UK to support long-term planning.  Our 30 day ahead forecasts on our website accurately highlighted the cold weather in late November and through December 2010.

Similarly we did not issue a forecast for the summer of 2010 or 2011 – we do not issue long-range forecasts to the public, as following research they have told us that they find forecasts for shorter timescales of more use.  Therefore we offer forecasts for 6 to 15 days and 16 to 30 days ahead on our website.

In fact our forecasts are widely recognised as among the most accurate in the world – the World Meteorological Organization consistently ranks us in the top two operational forecasters in the world. Recent research showed that 84% of people trust advice from the Met Office, and 90% of people find our Severe Weather Warnings useful.


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