The National Employers have written to the Home Secretary in connection with pay negotiations for 2022.
Local Government Association,
18 Smith Square, Westminster,
London, SW1P 3HZ
Employers’ Secretary, Naomi Cooke
FIRE & RESCUE SERVICES
To: Chief Fire Officers
Chief Executives/Clerks to Fire Authorities
Chairs of Fire Authorities
Directors of Human Resources
CC: Members of the Employers’ Side of the NJC
2 August 2022
- You will be aware from circular EMP/2/22 that the offer of a two per cent increase in basic pay and Continual Professional Development payments has been rejected.
- You will also be aware, including from the recent pay consultation meetings, that affordability has been the key factor in the National Employers decision to make such an offer.
- Pay and funding are matters that have been raised with respective governments previously. In addition, below is a letter sent today to the Home Secretary. As a UK-wide body similar approaches around funding will also be explored in respect of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- We will keep you updated as matters progress.
Local Government Association
18 Smith Square, Westminster London, SW1P 3HZ
Telephone: 020 7664 3000 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Employers’ Secretary, Naomi Cooke
FIRE & RESCUE SERVICES
Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
2 Marsham Street
BY EMAIL ONLY
02 August 2022
Dear Home Secretary,
I write on behalf of the National Employers for Fire who represent the employers of firefighters and other employees employed by Fire and Rescue Authorities.
The usual annual pay settlement date for uniformed employees within the scope of the National Joint Council (NJC) for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services is 1 July and is often referred to as the Grey Book pay award.
Such employees are fundamental to the efficient and effective delivery of the fire service to communities across England. As seen during the COVID-19 response, many also chose to volunteer to undertake additional duties following discussions between the National Employers, the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Fire Brigades Union.
Pay levels have been a matter of concern for both employer and employee representatives on the NJC, and its middle manager body, for some time. In considering pay awards, the National Employers take into account a number of factors for example inflation rates and settlements elsewhere in the public sector and the private sector.
This year, the National Employers, as is customary, undertook a consultation process with fire and rescue authority Chairs, chief fire officers and police, crime, and fire commissioners before a pay offer was made. The clearly expressed view was that such employees deserve a significant uplift in pay however, the issue of affordability for Fire and Rescue Services prevents this.
The National Employers were therefore in a position to make an offer of only 2.0%, the figure in most fire and rescue authority budgets. Despite successfully negotiating pay awards without industrial action featuring in 20 years, the growing gap in real term salary levels when compared with inflation over many of those years, has been brought into sharp focus this year with the substantial rise in the cost of living. The Fire Brigades Union has consulted with its members and unfortunately the offer has been rejected. This raises the very real possibility of industrial action.
We have engaged with the NFCC on operational matters and the difficulties such a position may cause, and I am sure you are well aware of those too. The recent publication of pay review body recommendations and outcomes have heightened the risk, in particular the award for the police service which is notably higher than the offer National Employers have been able to make for firefighters and, although we recognise is not fully funded, additional funding from the Home Office has been allocated for the purposes of police pay. In order to reward employees fairly and to reduce the potential of industrial action, the National Employers believe an award at the same level as that made to police and in line with awards made to other public sector workers would be appropriate.
Fire and rescue authority budgets are equally under pressure from the increasing cost of living. In addition, they also employ a significant number of non-uniformed staff which are largely employed on pay, terms and conditions negotiated within the NJC for Local Government Services. Such employees are often referred to as Green Book. Your department has been made aware of the financial pressure that will be placed on councils and fire authorities by projected increases in the National Living Wage that directly affect Green Book pay. The pay offer made by the NJC for Local Government Services has had to take this matter into account and that in turn places pressure on fire authority budgets. The level of pay increases that could be afforded in recent times has also reduced the amount of headroom between the lowest Grey Book salaries and the projected National Living Wage increases. This will need to be taken into account in coming years.
I am therefore asking you to consider additional funding from the Home Office to support an increased pay offer for Grey Book employees as it has supported the police service pay award.
I, and the National Employer officers, stand ready to work with the Home Office to achieve such an outcome. Similarly, should you require any further information in considering this matter or wish to meet we would be happy to do so.
There is significant pressure to resolve this matter quickly. Prompt and positive consideration of this request would be appreciated and would assist in averting an extremely costly and disruptive industrial dispute.
The NJC for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services is a UK-wide body. You may therefore wish to be aware that a copy of this letter may be provided to governments more widely.
Councillor Nick Chard
Chair of the Employers’ Side of the National Joint Council
cc: Jaee Samant, Director General, Public Safety Group