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2019/20 Pay Award

August 13, 2019

Last week the formal independent recommendations of the NCARRB were ratified and will now be implemented in full and in time for the August pay packets. We have received numerous emails from members since Thursday’s release and having now had time to fully digest the document ourselves, felt it necessary to communicate in greater detail regarding a number of issues you have highlighted.

Whilst the NCARRB focus on pay awards for officers ‘with powers’, thanks to a longstanding agreement with the Agency, awards for those with delegated powers also set the tone for pay awards for the rest of the Agency. The separate internal process for officers without delegated powers took place in the two weeks leading up to the recommendations becoming public last week in order that all pay awards would be met in time.

These non-powers negotiations represent an opportunity for the NCOA to ensure that the Agency acts consistently and in full recognition of how improvements to be introduced for the ‘with powers’ group are equally applicable to other areas of the workforce.

As a consequence, we were able to secure an agreement that those working shifts within the Operational Support Team (non-powers group) will now receive an enhancement to their shift allowance which mirrors the Control Centre with both groups working the most demanding shift patterns within the Agency. This is a significant change of position from the Agency since the NCOA first highlighted the disparity several months ago and will now form an intrinsic element of a formal review of shift working which we anticipate will be concluded in January 2020.

Following pressure from the NCOA, the agency have also committed to a time bound review of subsistence rates which it is accepted, have remained largely unchanged since 2006. 

The non-powers pay consultation took place against an extremely tight timescale requiring a determined effort by all parties especially the NCA pay team who worked hard to ensure the Agency was ready to action all elements of the award within 24hrs of agreements being reached.

Moving on to the detail of the NCARRB report we know some of you, having read the Agency’s pay submission are a little confused about whether the NCA were seeking an increase of 1.7% or the now agreed 2.5% (average award).

To provide clarity, the Agency’s case was strongly based around an uplift of 1.7% (IRC) based on affordability and a number of other factors. However, given that the Police Pay Review Body (PRRB) and the NCA Remuneration Review Body (NCARRB) are made up of the same individuals, Para 108 of their submission included the following; 

  • The PRB should consider relationship between the NCA and Police pay when making their recommendations. In the event of a recommendation that would widen the gap between police and NCA pay, the NCA will consult with the Home Office and Treasury about how to keep pace, including for the 19/20 pay award. We acknowledge this would require the agency to assess affordability and priorities for the budget. However, we would consult at speed on costed proposals as we consider the risk of the pay gap widening to be so serious for recruitment and retention that it could impact on our ability to deliver the agency’s mission.

The Agency was therefore very clear that whilst it wanted to work towards a 1.7% uplift, if the Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) were to recommend awards for the Police Service in excess of this, it would widen the Police/NCA pay gap. In such circumstances, the NCA would like to be given the opportunity to reassess affordability to enable it to keep up with Police pay.

The NCOA pay case however was one which focussed entirely on comparisons with our Police counterparts. This was across each of the equivalent grades underlining the NCA’s remit to investigate the most serious crimes in the UK law enforcement arena. Lack of pay progression within the NCA and consistently capped pay range maxima also hinder any perception of equity with domestic policing colleagues.   

In due course the Police review body published its independent report on Police pay which recommended an increase of 2.5%, ratified by the Home Office and made public on the 22nd July. This date saw a number of other Pay Review Body reports published simultaneously but not the NCARRB.

Honouring their commitment at para 108, the Agency pulled out all the stops to identify cash savings to fund a 2.5% award, and also convince both Treasury and the Home Office that there was justification to do so. This involved a dedicated group of HR staff and the NCA leadership team which included the Director General herself, to focus entirely on this issue and secure ratification of the NCARRB recommendation which moved above and beyond the initial 1.7% pay case. The NCOA are grateful for their personal efforts and commitment to secure the NCARRB recommendations.

You will be aware that the NCOA have been highly critical of a pay process which does not appear to those of us involved, to be entirely independent. The Agency has subsequently tried to explain to you all in clear terms the boundaries and issues they have to deal with in delivering their pay case. Therefore, to see the independent recommendations applied in full this year is satisfying. It also satisfying that the Agency fought for the NCARRB recommendations to be implemented in full and that the Treasury and Home Office were supportive, on this occasion.

Whilst satisfied with the final delivery of the pay process we recognise that our own pay case consisted of a 5% uplift for everyone and significantly that the Agency should stop capping the pay band maxima which have largely remained unchanged since 2006.

As well as demotivating and demoralising our most experienced staff it has also in its own right, created a 15% pay gap with Police colleagues sitting at the top of their own rank pay scale.

Although the Agency has been able to close the pay gap from 30% for some staff through the introduction of Spot Rates, the Police have consistently raised their own pay grade maxima in contrast to the Agency (and SOCA before it) who have consistently kept grade maxima capped.   

The minimum award this year to staff at the top of bay band of 1% plus .5% non-consolidated (non-pensionable), is unfair, does not make these officers feel valued, and in some cases is negatively affecting their pensions. This year, we made strong objections at every juncture and whilst recognising we do not hold the purse strings, we will continue to object until this flawed strategy which has created and is now widening the pay gap with the Police, is no longer pursued by the Agency. 

Moving forward

We will be pressing the Agency to reform pay for those beyond the Spot rate structure who once again saw significant increases but represent only 1/4 of the workforce. As is consistent with our position over many years we would like to see that G6’s in particular are rewarded for their work which often belies their grade.

Further improvements should also be focussed on G3, G2 and G1 whose pay sit significantly behind policing peers. It is of course extremely important that reform is targeted in a way which does not see these senior grades treated any less or any more favourably than G4 and G5 who have already been through this divisive process.

We will also encourage the Agency to secure additional funding to deliver what it needs to reform pay rather than continually reduce budgets elsewhere which is unsustainable and simply shifts financial pressures to other parts of the organisation.

The NCOA exists to support and represent all staff and at all grades and although we know the NCARRB has been heavily influenced by our pay submission this year, we believe there is more to be done. We will continue to fight as hard and for as long as we can, where we know battles can be won to ensure the Agency is able to become the employer of choice in UK law enforcement.

Read in Full

Although the pay headlines are well known, I would urge you to read the following documents cover to cover, to understand fully what has been achieved this year and why.

1.   The NCOA Submission to the NCARRB 2019 can be read in full at:

/media/10142/NCOA-Pay-Review-Body-Submission-22nd-February-2019-PDF-1.pdf 

2.   The NCA Submission to the NCARRB 2019 can be read in full at:

https://nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/who-we-are/publications/293-national-crime-agency-remuneration-review-body-ncarrb-evidence-submission-for-2019-20/file 

3.   The recommendations of the NCARRB for 2019/20 can be read in full at:

/media/10800/PDF-NCA-Remuneration-Review-Body-Fifth-Report.pdf 

 

Simon Boon

NCOA General Secretary