Staff associations claim 15 per cent pay rise as officers struggle to make ends meet 

Police officer staff associations claim salaries need to increase by five per cent every year for three years to rescue many officers from a financial cliff-edge. 

Feb 12, 2019
By Website Editor

Years of below-inflation pay awards have left more than a third of police officers struggling to make ends meet, with almost half worrying about their finances ‘almost every day’, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) claims. 

In a joint submission to the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) with the Police Superintendents Assocation (PSA), the PFEW says constables’ incomes are currently over 18 per cent below where they should be as a result of an erosion in pay since 2010. And sergeants’ pay is up to 19.4 per cent lower. 

The PFEW and PSA are proposing a five per cent uplift in pay for police officers this year, followed by five per cent rise in both 2020/21 and 2021/22. However, if the PRRB does not recommend a three-year deal, they propose a rise of 6.2 per cent for 2019. 

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) published its recommendation on Tuesday (February 12) [opens new tab], and also proposed a three-year deal but just six per cent in total – four per cent increase paid in 2019 and the remainder in 2021. Alternatively, as some chief constables do not believe such a three-year settlement is affordable, the NPCC said a one-year deal should include a rise of between two and two and a half per cent.

In addition to the submission with the PFEW, the PSA has also provided a joint submission with the Police Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland (PSANI), providing evidence on issues concerning superintending ranks. 

The PRRB is due to meet later this month to begin hearing verbal submissions. However, the PFEW is still pursuing judicial review of the previous year’s award, after the Government failed to implement the recommendations of the independent body in full. 

PFEW National Secretary Alex Duncan said: “Since austerity began, we have seen years of no pay increases or below inflation increases. The level of police pay has now eroded to a point where police officers are worse off than they should be.” 

Results of the PFEW Pay and Morale Survey 2018 show that 41 per cent of members said they do not have enough money to cover their essentials each month and 45 per cent said they worry about the state of their finances every day, or almost every day.  

“These figures should be ringing massive alarm bells with ministers,” Mr Duncan added. 

“We regard our proposed three-year deal as a start on the journey to return police officer pay to the level where it should be. We recognise that asking for uplifts of the scale needed to return officers to a level comparable with other jobs, and to keep up with inflation, is not likely to be palatable for the Government. For that reason, we seek a three-year deal that is slightly below the level that would be needed. 

“Since 2010, there has not been a single pay award that has kept pace with inflation. Based on where we are, another real-terms pay cut, or indeed a rise in the cost of living, is going to exacerbate that situation and result in more officers falling over a financial cliff-edge.” 

The staff associations are also highly critical of pay reforms being led by the NPCC. They provided numerous documents detailing the discussions between the two sides and claim that issues raised in October have still not been addressed. And they suggest the design of the reform programme be completed before progress can be made. 

The joint PFEW/PSA submission makes eight recommendations to the PRRB: 

1) The PRRB requires the NPCC to set out a full and proper project plan for pay reform, including a workable level of detail, within a set period; 

2) The PRRB insists that the Home Office, NPCC and staff associations determine which elements of the pay reform should be prioritised, as the NPCC has not actioned this since last year; 

3) In the interests of openness and transparency, and achieving appropriate expenditure from the public purse, a full cost benefit analysis of the existing Assessment and Recognition of Competence (ARC) process is undertaken. Only if it can be proved to be worth the overlay in terms of cost and time, should the NPCC proceed with plans for a Higher Skills assessment point linked to pay. Further, consultation regarding any payment associated with the Higher Skills assessment must be undertaken at the Police Consultative Forum, and a full Equality Impact Assessment undertaken before such assessment is linked to pay; 

4) Targeted bonus payments introduced last year should continue for now, but there must also be an opportunity to review: the circumstances under which they are paid; the impact on equal pay; and the guidance around their use, perhaps by incorporating more standard criteria; 

5) A review is undertaken including both the London and South East Allowances, but that in the meantime the discretionary element is removed from the South East Allowances; all South East Allowances are set at the upper limit permissible (currently £3,000); and that both the London and South East Allowances are uprated in line with inflation; 

6) An across the board pay uplift for the next three years, that is a deal of five per cent in year one, followed by five per cent in each of years two and three. This would enable the NPCC to demonstrate a commitment to move towards the overall rectification of the gap between current pay level and just pay levels. Should a three-year settlement not be considered possible, then a one-year deal of 6.2 per cent is proposed; 

7) The PRRB rejects completely the NPCC proposal regarding Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) and Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) progression pay. DHEP progression pay is not within the remit letter. In the meantime, the PFEW and PSA believe those on the PCDA scheme should progress along the existing constable pay scale, in the way that all other entrants do; and 

8) Regarding On Call, in absence of a full review of the allowance usage and amount, as sought by the Winsor Review of Police Remuneration and Conditions, the PRRB, and the staff associations, officers are paid the same rate as staff members – £29.17 per day – payable to all ranks. 

The PSA and SANI also claim that superintending ranks’ pay has fallen behind private and public sector roles that have been benchmarked by a firm of consultants, and they will be providing the comparison as part of their evidence for the pay rise. 

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