Police officers across England and Wales are to receive a 2% pay award for 2017-2018, and prison officers are to see their pay rise by an average of 1.7%.
The pay award for police, effective from 1 September 2017, includes a 1% increase in base pay and a one-off, non-consolidated 1% pay award for officers at federated and superintending ranks. There will also be a 1% increase in the London weighting allowance, and a 1% rise in the dog handlers’ allowance.
The confirmed pay award for police officers follows the publication of the Police Remuneration Review Body’s (PRRB) Third report: England and Wales 2017. The PRRB provides independent recommendations to the government regarding police officers’ hours of duty, leave, pay, allowances, and processes around police equipment and clothing.
The PRRB report found that an increase in basic pay beyond 1% is required, recommending a 2% consolidated pay increase to all pay points for federated and superintending police ranks, as well as a 2% increase to the London weighting allowance and dog handlers’ allowance from 1 September 2017. It also recommended that chief officers should be awarded local flexibility in the 2017-2018 pay year in order to make additional payments to police officers working in difficult to fill roles or in superintending ranks. This was proposed as an interim measure until September 2020.
The government has accepted the recommendations set out by the Prison Service Review Pay Body (PSPRB) in its Sixteenth report on England and Wales 2017, awarding prison staff an average 1.7% pay increase. This will be awarded to prison officers from October and backdated to 1 April 2017.
Under the pay award, prison officers and operational support grades in bands two to five will receive a minimum consolidated pay increase of £400, including those at the maximum of their pay band; uniformed staff on fair and sustainable terms in pay bands two to five who are below the maximum will progress by one pay point; managers in bands seven to 11 on fair and sustainable terms will receive pay progression above 1% based on their place in their pay band and their performance rating; managers on closed grades will receive at least a 1% increase, while those below their pay scale maximum will receive more.
Both the police and prison officer pay awards will be funded from existing budgets.
The government froze pay for public sector staff for two years from 2011, and subsequently imposed a 1% pay cap until 2015-2016. In the Summer Budget 2015, former Chancellor George Osborne announced that public sector pay rises would continue to be capped at 1% for a further four years from 2016-2017.
Elizabeth Truss, chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “Our talented and hardworking public sector workers deserve to have fulfilling jobs that are fairly rewarded and I am pleased to confirm the pay awards for police and prison officers for 2017-18.
“The government takes a balanced approach to public spending, dealing with our debts to keep our economy strong, while also making sure we invest in our public services. We will continue to ensure that the overall package for public sector workers recognises their vital contribution and ensures that we can deliver world class public services, while also being affordable and fair to taxpayers as a whole.”
Steve White, chair at the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), said: “Police officers do not join the service to make huge amounts of money; they do it out of a sense of duty and this year in particular have been tested to the max. However, they expect to be paid suitably for the immensely demanding role they perform and this simply is not the case.
“The 2% award is a 1% pensionable pay rise across the board, plus 1% as an additional amount of money this year, non-pensionable. We asked for 2.8% and provided compelling evidence to support this, which on first review appears to be reflected in the recommendations made by the [PRRB] to the government. We were not greedy in what we asked for. Officers have been taking home about 15% less than they were seven years ago. While it is a step in the right direction, the government should have done this sooner but we don’t feel that non-consolidated pay awards are the way forward.”
Frances O’Grady, general secretary at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said: “This below-inflation pay offer is pathetic. This isn’t a pay rise, it’s a pay cut. Public sector [employees] have suffered seven long years of real pay cuts, and are thousands of pounds worse off. Today’s announcement means bills will continue to rise faster than their wages.
“If ministers think a derisory rise like this will deal with the staffing crisis in our public services, they are sorely mistaken. The government needs to identify where this money is coming from. It can’t be loaded on to our already-stretched public services.”
Dave Prentis, general secretary at Unison, added: “It’s a tiny step in the right direction but not nearly enough. For seven long years the government’s harsh pay cap has been hurting public sector workers, their families and the services they provide. There must be no selective lifting of the cap. No one part of the public sector is any more deserving than the rest. With inflation on the rise, the cap must go for everyone and it must go now.”