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’.
This harsh reality is laid bare by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) in our joint submission with the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA) to the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB), which deals with police pay – published today.
Police pay has fallen below where it should be
Using the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC’s) own pay mechanism and data, and taking into account proposed ‘P factor’ payments (which we think should be 14%, in line with X factor payments to the military), we calculate that constables are already up to 18.4% below where they should be, and sergeants up to 19.4% below. This takes into account comparisons to other jobs in the public sector, but does not factor in inflation for 2019.
Therefore, we are proposing a 5% uplift in pay for police officers this year, followed by 5% in both 2020/21 and 2021/22.
The PFEW’s 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.
Officers are struggling financially
“41% of our members are saying they have not got enough money to cover their essentials each month and 45% tell us that they worry about the state of their finances every day, or almost every day. These figures should be ringing massive alarm bells with ministers.”
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.
Mr Duncan adds: “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.”
Eight recommendations were made to the PRRB
The next stage of the PRRB process is the oral evidence sessions scheduled for 27 February – 6 March.
Below are the recommendations we put to the PRRB (read the full submission):
Recommendation 1: The PRRB require the NPCC to set out a full and proper project plan for pay reform, including a workable level of detail, within a set period.
Recommendation 2: The PRRB insist that the Home Office, NPCC, and staff associations determine which elements of the pay reform should be prioritised, as the NPCC have not actioned this since last year.
Recommendation 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.
Recommendation 4: Regarding the targeted Bonus payments introduced last year, while the Bonus payments should continue for now, there must 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.
Recommendation 5: A review is undertaken including both the London and SE Allowances, but that in the meantime the discretionary element is removed from the SE Allowances; all SE Allowances are set at the upper limit permissible (currently £3,000); and that both the London and SE Allowances are uprated in line with inflation.
Recommendation 6: We recommend an across the board pay uplift for the next three years. We seek a deal of 5% in year 1, followed by 5% in each of years 2 and 3. 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 we seek a one year deal of 6.2%.
Recommendation 7: The PRRB should reject 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, we believe those on the PCDA scheme should progress along the existing constable pay scale, in the way that all other entrants do.
Recommendation 8: Regarding On Call, in absence of a full review of the allowance usage and amount, as sought by Winsor, the PRRB, and the staff associations, officers should be paid the same rate as staff members: £29.17 per day. Further, we believe this should be paid to all ranks.