18 June 2021

DCMS confirms expected pay freeze across freedoms bodies

Despite their guaranteed financial freedoms the Treasury have insisted that all DCMS arms length bodies obey the pay freeze.

PCS has received confirmation from DCMS that all of their arm's length bodies (ALBs) must fully comply with this year's treasury remit guidance, including the pay freeze. This is despite the fact that in 2015 museums, libraries and galleries were guaranteed "freedoms" to set their own pay, in line with their own income generation and affordability, they have since been referred to as "freedom bodies". We have challenged, in the strongest terms, the treasury ripping up this guarantee and have pressed the ALB employers to do the same. 

The government's insistence that freedom bodies impose a pay freeze this year will come as a slap in the face to thousands of PCS members, who, because of the governments lack of support for culture, were subject to a pay freeze last year too, and did not even receive the paltry 2.5% pay rise the treasury allowed for the rest of the public sector. Across most of these organisations the current pay scales were negotiated in 2019, with many of the lowest paid falling behind the real living wage. While in the core ALB's like Historic England, Sport England and the NHLF, the extraordinary hard work of our members in, amongst other things, delivering millions of pounds of grants in record time will be rewarded by this real terms pay cut. 

While some employers are working with PCS for creative ways to give their staff the decent pay rise they deserve, most have shied away from these conversations all together in light of DCMS's position. 

The impact of continuing pay freezes across the sector at a time when Heritage and Culture is so vital for the nations recovery will be significant. With the upcoming Commonwealth Games, the Festival of Britain and the Queen's platinum jubilee all in 2022, the importance of the culture sector to the future prosperity of the UK has never been more obvious, which makes this pay freeze even more indefensible. It will not only create a recruitment and retention crisis, but will close off the option of working in the culture sector for thousands of people who will simply be unable to afford to work in a sector with such low wages. Taking us back to a culture sector which is the preserve of the wealthy, and one which less diverse and weaker as a result. 

While we may negotiate some reasonable outcomes in some employers, the reality is to secure the pay rise workers deserve, across the vast majority of the culture sector we will need to fight back against this edict from central government. 

Join PCS today to fight for a properly resourced, properly funded and properly paid Culture and Heritage Sector.