On 24 June, PCS submitted our departmental pay claim within the framework of our national pay claim. Treasury guidance already published sought to limit increases to around 2%. Our national demands consisted of:
- A cost of living increase of 10% with a minimum underpin of £2,400 and living wage of £10 hour nationally/£11.55 in London.
- National pay bargaining across the civil service and related areas.
- Mechanisms to enable swift and defined progression to the maximum of the pay scales of the grade.
- Full funding of the claim with no detrimental changes to terms and conditions.
Years of below inflation rises have put civil service pay 11.4% lower in comparison with the wider public sector. Years of austerity have had a severe impact on members dealing with rising living costs.
These are also the terms we recently balloted on. In the Home Office we saw 82% of members supporting strike action. However, this was on a turnout of 47.9% meaning we failed to reach the 50% legal threshold for strike action.
PCS met with the department three times over July and August. Our main priorities in this process were:
- To demand more funds be made available with no strings attached.
If the employer is to give everyone a decent pay rise then we need a pot larger than 2%.
- Prioritisation of lowest paid. Below inflation rises have disproportionately impacted our lowest paid staff as they use a higher proportion of earnings on utilities, housing and essentials.
- Consolidated rises for all. It is important that everyone receives pensionable increases.
- Progression. A common complaint is the lack of mechanism to get from the bottom of the pay scales to the top in a reasonable amount of time.
- Inclusion of staff on legacy allowances (AAA/SDA) in any offer.
On 29 August the final offer was sent through to PCS and published on Horizon.
In addition to these proposals we have received notification that the department intends to review the following allowances:
• Language allowance
• UKVI Service and Support Centre (SSC) allowance (formerly Premium Service Centre allowance)
• Supervisory allowance
• Higher Responsibility Allowance (HRA)
• Temporary cover allowance (TCA)
Plus, there will be a study of holiday pay, especially in light of recent judgements in relation to voluntary overtime and its inclusion in holiday pay.
The first observation is that the offer went nowhere near satisfying our demands. Put simply there was not enough new money from the Treasury to make an offer that reflects the rises that are needed to rectify the years of pay restraint.
The offer means that for those in grades EO to G6 minimums will be increased by 2.8% and maximums by 1%. Members’ positions on the scale will influence the amount of salary increase that is consolidated and how much is non-consolidated. This compression effect means that more money is directed at those near the bottom of the pay scales and means a shortening of the scales to 13%. Whilet this is welcome it remains the case that there are no guaranteed progression arrangements to get to the top of these scales.
However, the decision of the department to offer lower consolidated rises to the Admin spot rates (excluding AA national) than the 2% available is not acceptable to us. To illustrate this, a grade 7 at the bottom of their scale in London will be receiving a £1,525 consolidated increase to their salary. This compares to their AO colleagues in London seeing their rate go up by just £347. PCS believes that the use of percentage increases has exacerbated gaps between grades. We have consistently argued in favour of offers incorporating flat rate pay increases. This would have the effect of closing gaps and diverting money to the lowest paid.
PCS wrote to the employer on 30 September rejecting the offer and setting out clearly where we expected improvements.
It was disappointing that just 2 days later the Home Office indicated it was imposing the award with no further improvements.
Members should receive their increases at the end of October. Members will also be receiving emails asking them about their participation in the this year’s ballot. However, we need to start preparing now for a possible ballot in 2020. The only way we will exert pressure is by winning that ballot. Everyone has their part to play. Please contact your branch and get involved.