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Police staff council trade union side pay claim for 2023


1. Introduction

Unite, unison and GMB union logos
  • The pay and allowances of police staff in England and Wales have risen by only 20.9% over the twelve years since 2011 
  • If pay and allowances had risen by the cost of living (RPI measure), they would be 52.4% higher today than they were in 2011 
  • Government cost cutting in the Police Service has slashed the value of police staff pay to a level where it is no longer competitive. Police staff are finding it hard, if not impossible, to manage on their current salaries
  • The current cost of living crisis is leading to real hardship amongst police staff and their families. The RPI headline rate of inflation understates the impact of real terms pay cuts when we look at bundles of goods lower earners typically spend their money on
  • Recruitment and retention data is not available to us but examination of the budget plans recently placed before Police and Crime Panels show us a Police Service in England and Wales with a police staff recruitment and retention crisis and percentage vacancy rates for some forces reaching the low teens.
  • The Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation stood at 13.8% in February 2023*. The Treasury average of independent forecasts states that RPI inflation will average 9.3% over 2023.
  • Office for National Statistics, Consumer Price Inflation Reference Tables, March 2023
Table 1 below shows the major fall in living standards suffered by police staff since 2011
  Police Staff pay increases Rise in cost of living*  (as measured by Retail Price Index)
2011 0% 5.2%
2012 0% 3.2%
2013 1% 3.0%
2014 2.2% 2.4%
2015 0% 1.0%
2016 1% 1.8%
2017 1% 3.6%
2018 2% 3.3%
2019 2.5% 2.6%
2020 2.5% 1.5%
2021 0%** 4.1%
2022 7.1%*** 11.6%
2023   13.8%****

 

*Office for National Statistics, Consumer Price Inflation Reference Tables, figure is for January of respective year

** Police staff earning up to £24,000 received a £250 pay rise, but staff above this pay point received no pay increase.

*** Average – based on increase for the mean salary of pay point 22 – the April 21 2.1% pay increase is included in this figure

**** Office for National Statistics, Consumer Price Inflation Reference Tables, March 2023

While the cumulative value of total police staff pay rises from 2011 till 2022 has been 20.9%, the cost of living has risen by 52.4% to January 2022.  

The failure of pay to keep up with the rising cost of living has led to major cuts in living standards for police staff and their families since 2011. Please be aware that these cuts in living standards do not include the high level of inflation since January 2022 to now.

Table 2 below shows the cuts in real terms pay that police staff have suffered since 2011:
Pay Point Current Salary If pay kept up with RPI since 2011 Cut in real-terms pay from 2011 to Jan 2022
10 £ 21,606 £ 25,813 £ 4,207
22 £ 28,767 £ 36,269 £ 7,502
30 £ 36,477 £ 46,684 £ 10,207
45 £ 52,152 £ 67,857 £ 15,705

 

These statistics open the PSC Trade Union Side’s pay claim for police staff members for 2023. The continual erosion of real terms pay for well over a decade, coupled with the recent surge in prices for essentials such as energy, food and housing, mean that many staff are really struggling to find the money to get through each month. We look to the Employers to demonstrate that they really value police staff and recognise that it is now essential to begin to reverse the real terms cuts to pay and living standards that we have seen since 2011.

As we noted in our last four pay claims, the wider question of how police staff basic pay is determined, including the role of job evaluation and force pay and grading schemes, is the subject of Part 2 of the Police Staff Council Pay and Reward Review, which is currently underway. The Trade Union Side remains disappointed that the Employers’ Side have not been able to engage in without prejudice talks about significant pay reform for police staff in England and Wales. Police staff are acutely aware that the Employers are engaged elsewhere in a programme which aims to reform the way in which police officers are rewarded. This wider question frames our pay claim for a fourth claim running.

2. Synopsis

This claim is split into the following sections:

  • Executive summary
  • Police Staff Pay Determination Factors
    • Pay Movements Elsewhere in the Public Sector/Elsewhere in the Economy
    • Movements in the Retail Prices Index
    • Recruitment and Retention Factors
    • Police Service Funding
  • Meeting the Real Living Wage
  • A Variable Increase in the Value of Pay Points 8 – 19
  • PSC Pay and Reward Review Part 2
  • Conclusion

3. Executive Summary

3.1 Headline Claim

The Police Staff Council Trade Union Side submits the following pay claim on behalf of our police staff members in England and Wales to take effect from 1 September 2023:

  • One-year claim
  • A guarantee that no pay points will fall below the Joseph Rowntree real living wage during the 2023/24 pay year
  • An increase of RPI + 4% on all pay points
  • An increase of RPI + 4% on standby allowance and overnight away from home allowance
  • A variable increase in the value of pay points 8 – 19 to make each incremental step worth £500 creating more equal steps up the lower pay points of the PSC pay spine; this adjustment to be applied prior, and in addition, to the RPI +4% pay increase
  • An increase in the minimum annual leave entitlement in the PSC Handbook from 24 days on appointment and 29 days after five years service to 25 days on appointment and 30 days after five years service.

Two tables are attached as appendices A & B  that lay out the impact of this claim on the existing PSC pay spine.

3.2 PSC Pay Determination Factors

The Police Staff Council Handbook sets out the following five factors to which the negotiators must have regard when negotiating PSC pay awards. They do not constitute a rigid formula, but they are significant reference points for any pay claim, and for the pay negotiations which will follow.

The current values attaching to the factors, at the time of first submitting this claim, are:

  • pay movements elsewhere in the public sector: 4.5%*
  • pay movements elsewhere in the economy: 5.7%**
  • movements in the retail prices index (RPI): 13.8%**

    (February 2023)
  • recruitment and retention factors: no measure
  • police service funding   3.6%****

* Labour Research Department, settlements year to March 2023

** ONS, average private sector earnings growth, Labour Market Overview, March 2023

*** Office for National Statistics, Consumer Price Inflation Reference Reference Tables, March 2023

**** House of Commons Library briefing, February 2023

Our police staff members tell us that it has become increasingly difficult to make ends meet over the last decade of real terms pay cuts and they are keenly aware that pay in potential alternative roles in the private sector has been increasing more rapidly than their own. The Trade Union Side wishes to emphasise the need for the eventual pay award this year to recognise the substantial fall in real terms pay since 2011 and the detrimental impact that this has had on our members’ spending power.

The need to address the loss of the historic buying power of police staff salaries will not go away; nor have our members forgotten the severe impact that government austerity measures have had on their standard of living. Every year of below inflation pay settlements make police staff poorer and reduce the living standards of them and their families.  

At the time of writing, the Police Staff Council has no measure available in respect of recruitment and retention issues in forces in England and Wales. However examination of the budgetary proposals laid out to Police and Crime Panels across England and Wales it is clear that there is a police staff recruitment and retention crisis. Police staff vacancy factors are being used as a method of dealing with budget shortfalls with often the reasons given that it is highly challenging to recruit to roles anyway.

Previous years have seen above inflation police funding settlements and these could, and should, have been used to arrest the declining real terms wages of police staff.

3.3 Explanation of Claim

  • A guarantee, as part of the 2023 pay award, that no PSC pay points fall below the Joseph Rowntree real Living Wage during the 2023/24 pay year. As the real Living Wage is not announced until November each year, there is a danger that this rate could leapfrog the value of the lowest paid PSC pay points set earlier in September. The Joseph Rowntree real Living Wage effective, at the latest, from May 2023 is £10.90/hour. Expressed as an annual salary (10.9 x 37 x 52.14) this is £ 21,028 per annum. We note that this puts the current salaries for pay points 7, 8 and 9 below the real Living Wage from May 2023.
  • A headline increase in all PSC pay points of RPI plus 4%. RPI for February is 13.8%*, therefore our claim is for a 17.8% increase.  This claim seeks, in a modest way, to start to address the cuts in real terms pay that police staff have suffered since 2011. For the average mid-scale pay point  22 salary is down 26%, or £7,502 per year, on what it would have been today, if it had kept up with inflation. Our members are not prepared to continue paying the price for failed government austerity and economic policies.

    * Office for National Statistics, Consumer Price Inflation Reference Tables, March 2023
  • An increase of RPI + 4% in the value of standby and overnight allowance.  Standby allowance has always increased in line with the headline increase in pay points as part of pay awards in previous years, and we ask the same again regarding the overnight allowance. These allowances compensate our members for the loss of freedom entailed in being on standby and having to stay away from home overnight.

The RPI plus 4% claim of 17.8% is a very modest proposal to address historic cuts to real terms wages and the values of the PSC pay determination factors (see Section 4). It would take six pay settlements, until 2028, of RPI plus 4% pay rises to return mid-scale Police Staff pay point 22 to the real terms pay level it was at in 2011. This is without even considering the right of police staff to share in the proceeds of economic growth since 2011 or the value of lost real terms pay not paid to staff over that period.

  • Squeezed differentials and depressed relative values of pay points 8 – 19 remain an ongoing issue. We seek to address this by adjusting the values of PSC pay point 8 – 19 to make each incremental step worth £500, creating more equal steps up the lower pay points of the PSC pay spine. Our claim asks for this incremental restructuring to take place prior, and in addition, to the headline increase of RPI + 4% on all pay points.
  • An additional day on the minimum annual leave entitlement would recognise the need for police staff to have adequate holiday for relaxation and enjoyment at a time when police staff jobs are again under threat and workloads are rising because of the support requirements for increased police officer numbers, police staff job losses and high vacancy rates.

4. PSC Pay Determination Factors

4.1 Pay Movements Elsewhere in the Public Sector and Elsewhere in the Economy

Pay settlements in the private sector have been running ahead of the public sector and police staff for the vast majority of the last decade. Over the past year pay awards across the whole economy have been running at 5%.* In the private sector awards have averaged at 5.5%.* Public sector awards stand at 4.5%* over the past year and are likely to increase as large numbers of public sector workers take industrial action to secure better pay and conditions. The NJC for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services has recently implemented an award for firefighters of 7% retrospective from 1 July 2022 and 5% with effect from 1 July 2023.

With regards to major public sector employers who have made offers for 2023 as this claim is written, Local Government employers have made a pay offer of a £1,925 consolidated increase and the NHS have offered an extra one-off £1,655 for the lowest paid, rising in value up pay bands, in addition to the £1,400 a year pay rise for 2022/23 plus a permanent 5% pay rise on all pay points for 2023/24, worth at least £1,065 and a permanent 10.4% increase to the two lowest pay points, raising the lowest pay point to 55p higher than the real Living Wage.

It is important to note that intensification of pressures on employers across the whole economy as the last year has unfolded is reflected in pay settlements over the three months to March 2023 increasing sharply to an average of 6%.*

Employers offering pay rises below these rates can expect damage to their ability to recruit and retain high quality staff.

* Source: Labour Research Department, settlements to March 2023

Table 2
Sector Average pay settlements
Across economy 5%
   
Private sector 5.5%
Public sector 4.5%
Not for profit 4.18%
 Source: Labour Research Department, settlements year to March 2023  

 

A longer-term perspective, shown in Table 3 below, reflects the huge cumulative impact of police staff pay settlements lagging behind average pay settlements across the economy from 2011 to 2022. This shows how average pay settlements across the economy have resulted in 33.8% growth since 2011 compared to 20.9% for Police Staff. The cumulative gap in earnings growth since 2011 will not be closed without significant investment.

Table 3
Year Average pay settlements Police Staff pay increases
2011 2.5% 0%
2012 2.5% 0%
2013 2.5% 1%
2014 2.5% 2.2%
2015 2.2% 0%
2016 2.0% 1%
2017 2.0% 1%
2018 2.5% 2%
2019 2.5% 2.5%
2020 2.5% 2.5%
2021 2.0% 0%*
2022 2.3% 7.1%

* Police staff earning up to £24,000 received a £250 pay rise, but staff above this pay point received no pay increase.

4.2 Movements in the Retail Price Index

As Table 1 above shows, the value of police staff salaries has fallen drastically relative to inflation over the last nine years.

The most accurate indicator of changes in the cost of living facing workers is the Retail Price Index (RPI). The Police Staff Council pay determination factors recognise this.

Inflation has risen to reach its highest rates for over 30 years. The police staff pay settlement needs to recognise this reality and its impact on the living standards of staff.

4.2.1 RPI inflation Rate

The retail prices index of inflation was 13.8%* in February 2023.

* Office for National Statistics, Consumer Price Inflation Reference Tables, March 2023

4.2.2 Inflation Forecast

The Treasury average of independent forecasts states that RPI inflation will average 9.3% over 2023, before dropping back to the 4% mark in subsequent years, as per the pattern shown in the graph below. However, the fact that RPI inflation increased in February 2023, to 13.8% from 13.4% in January 2023, shows just how deeply rooted are the inflationary pressures now affecting the UK. These annual rates show the rate at which pay rises would be needed for wages just to maintain their current value.

4.2.3 Relationship between RPI and PSC Pay Awards (2011 – 2022)

The PSC pay award has been lower than RPI inflation for the majority of the period in question.

4.3  Recruitment and Retention Factors

At the time of writing, the Police Staff Council has no measure available in respect of recruitment and retention issues in forces in England and Wales. However reading through the budgetary proposals laid out to Police and Crime Panels across England and Wales it is clear that there is a police staff recruitment and retention crisis. Police staff vacancy factors are being used as a method of dealing with budget shortfalls with often the reason given that it is highly challenging to recruit to roles anyway.

For some police forces the declared police staff vacancy percentage rates are well into the teens and a number are removing vacant posts for the overall police staff establishment.

4.4  Police Service Funding

One of the PSC pay determination factors is the level of police funding for the coming pay year.

The headline police funding settlement, including permitted precept increases, is 3.6% for 2023/24

The Trade Union Side notes that there have previously been a continuous number of years of above inflation funding settlements which could, and should, have been used to arrest the declining real terms wages of police staff.

5. Meeting the Real Living Wage

The Trade Union side has included a demand for a guarantee that no pay points will fall below the Joseph Rowntree real living wage during the 2023/24 pay year in its claim. 

The Joseph Rowntree real Living Wage effective from May 2023 is £10.90/hour. Expressed as an annual salary (10.9 x 37 x 52.14) this is £ 21,028 per annum. We note that this puts the current salaries (September 2022) for pay points 7, 8 and 9 below the real Living Wage from May 2023.

6. A Variable Increase in the Value of Pay Points 8 – 19

The importance of maintaining a focus on low pay amongst police staff is made most clear when considering the disproportionate impact of rising living costs on lower earners. 

Staff are experiencing an enormous surge in costs , including:

  • A 133% increase in gas prices;
  • A 67% increase in electricity prices; 
  • A 50% increase in mortgage interest payments;
  • A 17% increase in food prices;
  • A 10% rise in rent for a new rental property.

(1)Office for National Statistics, Consumer Price Inflation Reference Tables, December 2022, for electricity, gas, petrol and mortgage interest payments - Office for National Statistics, HomeLet Rental Index, March 2023, for rental prices

Items like gas, electricity, housing and food make up a significantly larger proportion of spending for lower earners than for the better paid. It is therefore the case that police staff on the lowest paid grades are facing a considerably higher rate of personal inflation than the headline RPI rate.

The Trade Union Side recognises that The Police Staff Council has demonstrated a real commitment in recent years to tackling low pay. But progress in this respect must be maintained if rates of pay in the lower half of the PSC pay spine are not to fall back in relative value this year and in subsequent pay awards.

7. Police Staff Council Pay and Reward Review and Investment in Pay Reform for the Police Workforce

The terms of reference for the PSC Pay and Reward Review commit both sides of the Council to review the current arrangements for determining police staff basic pay, including job evaluation and pay and grading schemes, and whether these arrangements remain fit for purpose. 

This work makes up Part 2 of the PSC Pay and Reward Review, and although much preparatory work has been undertaken by both sides of the Council, the Employers’ Side has made it clear that there is no support among forces for fundamental reform of police staff basic pay arrangements. This remains a matter of real concern to the Trade Union Side.

The Trade Union Side is aware that in relation to the police officer part of the police workforce, the Employers are committed to a programme of pay reform which is likely to require additional investment in police officer pay to deliver. 

We make clear again on behalf of our members that we expect any additional investment in police officer pay arrangements, connected with pay reform, to be matched by no lesser degree of additional investment in our members’ pay arrangements.

8. Conclusion

The Police Staff Council Trade Union Side submits this claim in the expectation that police staff will receive a proper, above inflation, pay rise in 2023. Our claim is reasonable and proportionate, particularly given the drastic decline in the value of our members’ earnings over the last twelve years and in relation to the sterling work which our members carried out in relation to the police service response to the Covid19 pandemic. 

The Police Staff Council pay determination factors clearly justify a decent pay rise for police staff this year. This claim highlights in particular that RPI inflation remains very high and that public sector pay awards are up. These are the significant economic factors which will inform this year’s pay negotiations.

Finally, this claim seeks to maintain the progress we have made on the Council in tackling low pay, by ensuring that at least the Joseph Rowntree real Living Wage is paid as minimum and delivering a variable increase in the value of pay points 8 -19.