As previously reported, with the exception of the NCARRB, all pay review bodies published their reports mid-July, signaling at least some relief against what are now, relentless cost of living increases.
Whilst the NCOA have been involved in weekly pay update meetings with the Agency they have been largely focused on what the NCA intends to do in an attempt to convince the purse holders at Treasury to respect the One NCA culture evidenced through successive awards since 2014.
Progress has quite understandably not been helped by the sad death of Queen Elizabeth II and a change of hierarchy within the Conservative Government. That said, as we approached last Thursday’s scheduled pay meeting with the Agency, (a month after Liz Truss and her new team had taken up office), there was a sense that even now, we had little confidence that a deal was remotely close or worse, that an Agency drafted pay flex paper had even left the confines of Spring Gardens.
Therefore, whilst content to be proven wrong, earlier that same week I decided to second guess the lack of progress and write to both the new Home Secretary and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to vent my frustration on your behalf. In normal circumstances, a three month pay award delay is pretty shocking, in an escalating cost of living crisis - it is unfathomable. At this juncture, it seems probable that there will be no tangible uplift to G6 - G1 pay until November.
In writing similarly to both the Home Secretary and Chief Secretary, I used the opportunity to deliver a clear picture of the reality of the broader NCA pay position in 2022.
“With the Police service as our natural pay comparator group, whilst it might seem natural to draw a line between warrant holders (officers with powers) and Police staff (officers without powers), the picture within the National Crime Agency is not quite as straightforward. There are roles within the NCA which are performed by officers without powers that would fit firmly within a Policing comparator role, and NCA roles performed by officers with powers which in the Policing environment might fit more naturally within a ‘police staff’ setting.
To compound matters, Spot Rates of pay, although initially directed at officers with powers now straddle the powers/non powers workforce all the way up to Grade 1. Given the close engagement of the Agency and HM Treasury when building its annual pay submissions to the NCARRB, these NCA pay nuances which separate it from policing peers, have all been introduced with the agreement and support of the Treasury in particular.
It is also worthy of note that from the Agency’s inception in 2013, the pay remit letters of successive Home Secretaries up until Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, recognised the role of the Pay review body and the need to ensure any pay recommendations were made after specific regard was given to, “The effects of any pay divergence between NCA officers designated with powers and those without”
Until this year, successive pay review body recommendations for officers with designated powers have subsequently always been mirrored for those without powers, which has honoured the important ‘One Agency’ culture.
On the 19th July 2022 the various Pay Review Bodies all reported publicly on their recommendations - with the exception of the NCARRB, given that it had not been possible for their recommendations to be ratified. At least one of the reasons appears to be that there are difficulties in delivering an Agency wide pay award which uses the ‘with powers’, recommendations as the basis for an all officer pay award.
As you might imagine, the current cost of living crisis is placing intolerable pressure on our membership who, like us are frustrated and becoming increasingly angry that no pay award has been secured this year. This is normally in place from the August pay run and yet it seems even an October settlement is now highly unlikely. Whilst I accept back payments will be made as necessary, our members need a meaningful pay award now, in order that they can manage their often-limited finances in response to unprecedented increases in practically all products and services.
I would therefore urge you to encourage your Treasury team to secure the 2022 NCA pay award as quickly as possible. I would also ask that due consideration is given by all parties to the Treasury ‘buy in’ to a workforce which now sees Spot rates across the powers/non powers split and the existence of role functions which are not a direct mirror for policing counterparts.
Whether officers are designated with powers or not, none of our members are insulated from the cost-of-living crisis and I would urge a pay approach for 2022 which respects the One NCA culture, remains consistent with all previous ‘across the board’ pay awards and help restore the fragile faith many NCA officers have in the current Pay Review Process, which appears to have let them down when it matters most. I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.”
An added area of concern for us is that the Senior Civil Service (SCS) Grades secure their annual pay award through a quite separate process which has already been concluded and published. Following our direct request, and as a gesture of respect to the wider workforce, the Agency has agreed that SCS pay awards are currently ‘suspended’ and will only be paid when the entire Agency receives theirs.
At the scheduled pay meeting of the 6th October, we were unsurprised to hear that no real progress had been made other than that there was no longer any further impediment to the submission of the final pay-flex case. Having explained we had already written to the Treasury and Home Office earlier in the week, we outlined our formal position regarding the lack of progress in a letter to the Agency later that same day.
I am led to believe that limited pay comms were subsequently released to you all by the Agency late on Friday afternoon. Whilst this is of course positive, we have not seen the report which is referred to by the NCA other than excerpts shared with us from an early draft document. That said, I am confident, that our entirely vindicated letters sent ahead of that paper, will help bolster any pay case presented by the Agency - and also impress on ministers the urgency required to deliver the NCARRB recommendations for all.
Given the timing of comms sent by both the NCOA and the NCA it seems highly likely that any response I may receive will merely mirror a more public message of an award - once I have any news, I will of course share it with you.
We remain committed to engaging with Agency but will continue to do what we need to deliver a 2022 award to you all.
Simon Boon - NCOA General Secretary