The UNISON NJC Committee met on 5 October 2020 to consider the contents of the NJC pay claim for 2021/22, as well as the process for consulting members
The 2020 pay settlement
For NJC 2020, we submitted a pay claim of 10%. The Employers initially offered 2%, and after negotiations they returned with a final offer of 2.75%. This was ultimately accepted
The impact of Covid-19
Local government workers have shown how indispensable they are during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, and the public are more aware than before of how vital our
members are. They deserve fair reward for their work.
Local government funding
There is a funding crisis in local government. UNISON and others estimate that in the current financial year alone, councils face a funding gap of £10 billion.
However, throughout the union we are campaigning hard for more funding from the Westminster Conservative Government for councils, and pay must be considered in this
The Westminster Government could definitely afford to fund a decent pay increase for local government workers if enough pressure is applied. We know that far
more can be done to make money available – for example some multi-national companies avoid paying huge amounts of tax, money that could be used for local government pay.
The money is there if we can get the Government to fund councils and council workers properly.
Earlier this year we wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling on him to fully fund local government pay increases and we will continue to put pressure on the Treasury
during the forthcoming pay round.
The Committee considered a range of economic indicators, including comparisons with pay settlements elsewhere in the public sector, public vs. private sector comparisons,
inflation figures and forecasts, and average earnings growth figures. This data is below.
Low pay and equality in local government
Low pay continues to be a concern in local government. The bottom spinal column point is now £9.25. This is slightly below the Foundation Living Wage. The Government’s own aim
is to raise the National Living Wage to two-thirds of median earnings by April 2024. To achieve this, we calculate that local government pay at the bottom end needs to rise by
3.25% each year until then.
UNISON has existing Conference policy calling for a £10 an hour minimum wage.
At the same time, since 2018 we have had a new, equality-proofed NJC pay spine, and the Committee are keen not to ‘unpick’ it by altering the differentials between spinal
The NJC Committee agreed that our core objective must continue to focus on the restoration of decent pay levels for all members and a bold claim is needed.
The Committee also wanted to keep the claim simple and agreed not to recommend the inclusion of any NJC conditions in this pay claim. It is hoped that a simple pay claim will
make it easier to engage members in a strong, vocal pay campaign.
The Committee have formulated three options for the ‘headline’ claim for the 2021 pay claim. Rather than simply propose one option, the Committee is keen to get a clear picture
of members’ views and preferences. Branches are asked to consult members on the following three options:
OPTION A: 5% or a £10 an hour pay rate, whichever is greater
If NJC pay at the bottom is to reach two-thirds median earnings, by 2024, it needs to rise by 3.25%. Option A takes that figure and adds the current RPI inflation rate of 1.6%. It is
then rounded up from 4.85% to 5%. This option also demands a £10 an hour fall-back position for those on spinal column points 1 and 2.
OPTION B: 8% or a £10 an hour pay rate, whichever is greater
For those on spinal column point 1, an increase of around 8% is needed to reach a £10 an hour pay rate. Option B demands 8% for everyone, but again with a fall-back position of a
£10 an hour pay rate, if that would be greater.
OPTION C: 10%
Option C demands a 10% pay increase for everyone, a repeat of the 2020 headline
Consultation process and timetable
Branches are asked to carry out as wide a consultation as possible on the contents of the proposed claim.
The UNISON NJC Committee will meet in late November 2020 to consider the results of the branch consultation and to agree UNISON’s proposals for the 2021 pay claim. GMB
and Unite will also be consulting their members on what they would like to see in the claim. The intention is for the Trade Union Side to agree a claim for submission to the
Local Government Association (LGA) early in 2021.
APPENDIX: ECONOMIC BACKGROUND INFORMATION
MOST RECENT PAY INCREASES AMONG LARGEST BARGAINING GROUPS
Bargaining Group Last settlement
Local Government NJC 1 April 2020 2.75%
Local Government SJC 1 April 2020 3%
Local Authority Chief Officers 1 April 2019 2.75%
Youth and Community Workers 1 Sept 2020 2.75%
NHS AfC (England) 1 April 2020 6.5% over 3 years
NHS AfC (Scotland) 1 April 2020 9% over 3 years for staff at top of most bands
NHS AfC (Wales) 1 April 2020 6.5% over 3 years
NHS AfC (Northern Ireland) 1 April 2020 Restoration of pay parity with NHS staff in England
Higher Education 1 August 2019 1.8%
Further Education (Wales) 1 August 2019 2.75%
Police Staff (England & Wales) 1 September 2019 2.5%
Police Staff (Scotland) 1 April 2020 3%
National Probation Service (England & Wales) 1 April 2019 No cost of living award, but pay modernisation changes resulted
in increases varying between 3% and 13% depending on the pay point
Public v private
Sector Average pay settlements
Across economy 2.5%
Private sector 2.5%
Public sector 2.6%
Not for profit 2.0%
Energy & gas 2.5%
Water & waste management 2.3%
Source: Labour Research Department, settlements year to June 2020
Recruitment and retention
Councils are at the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to continue to deliver vital services to their communities they have had to be flexible in how they
deploy their workforce in order to increase capacity in high demand services or to fill gaps in services caused by the pandemic.
One option available to councils is the recruitment of additional staff. To understand the scale of recruitment, the Local Government Association asked councils whether they had
recruited additional staff (of any type including casual, agency, contingent, etc) during the week 21 August 2020.
26% reported recruiting additional staff: in total 1,225 additional staff were recruited during the week ending 21 August 2020. The median number of staff per council was 3 and the
mean was 29.
Has the council recruited additional staff (of any type including casual, agency, contingent, etc during week ending 21 August 2020)?
Yes % Total Median Mean
County 6 33 20 5 5
District 13 12 386 2 32
London borough 10 53 631 7 9
Metropolitan borough 8 50 69 4 12
Unitary 13 34 26 3 3
Welsh unitary 4 50 93 5 23
English single tier 31 42 726 3 33
All councils 54 26 1225 3 29
Inflation rates and projections
Year % Annual Growth in RPI* % Annual Growth in CPI
2015 1.0 0.0
2016 1.8 0.7
2017 3.6 2.7
2018 3.3 2.5
2019 2.6 1.8
*UNISON believes that the Retail Prices Index (RPI) remains the most accurate measure of inflation faced by employees.
Forecast inflation rates
The Treasury average of independent forecasts states that RPI inflation will average 1.6% over 2020. It will then escalate annually to reach 2.8% by 2022. These annual rates show
the rate at which pay rises would be needed for wages just to maintain their current value.
Average earnings growth and projections
Job Type Annual % change 2018-19
All employees 3.7
Managers, directors and senior officials 0.7
Professional occupations 1.8
Science, research, engineering and technology professionals 2.7
Health professionals 0.8
Teaching and educational professionals 1.4
Business, media and public service professionals 2.7
Associate professional and technical occupations 1.1
Science, engineering and technology associate professionals 2.4
Health and social care associate professionals 2.1
Protective service occupations 1.9
Culture, media and sports occupations 2.3
Business and public service associate professionals 1.6
Administrative and secretarial occupations 3.9
Administrative occupations 3.7
Secretarial and related occupations 4.2
Skilled trades occupations 3.6
Skilled metal, electrical and electronic trades 3.2
Skilled construction and building trades 2.8
Caring, leisure and other service occupations 4.9
Caring personal service occupations 4.8
Leisure, travel and related personal service occupations 6.3
Sales and customer service occupations 3.4
Sales occupations 3.7
Customer service occupations 2.7