Police officers will be awarded a pay rise of 2% in 2018 to 2019. This will mean that average pay for a police constable will now be more than £38,600 per year. The increase will consist of a 2% pay increase for all police officer ranks, a 2% increase to the London weighting payment and a 2% increase to the dog handlers’ allowance.
In deciding the award, the Government has striven to strike a balance between overall affordability to forces and fairness to the taxpayer, all the while recognising the importance of continuing to reduce debt as a share of the economy, while at the same time investing in vital public services.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our police officers do an incredible job in the face of complex crime and rising demand, and I’m grateful for their continued dedication to keeping us safe. This award represents the highest consolidated pay award since 2010. I’ll continue to fight on behalf of the police to ensure that they have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.”
The award comes after the Government removed a 1% cap on increases to public sector pay in 2017.
The Government has delivered a £460 million increase in overall funding to policing in 2018 to 2019, including increased funding for local policing through the council tax precept. This funding will enable forces to meet the costs of the pay award.
Police forces are also holding around £1.6 billion of public money in reserves as at March 2017.
Police Remuneration Review Body recommendations
The Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) had recommended that the 1% non-consolidated award received in 2017 to 2018 be consolidated, and that a further 2% consolidated award be given to all police officers. Police employers, however, advised that the maximum affordable award would be a 2% increase. This was recommended by both the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.
The PRRB report also noted that police forces have achieved increased efficiencies over the past year. However, the Government is clear that there’s more to be done in this area, and has identified over £100 million of potential savings for police by dint of better procurement alone. Policing remains a desirable career and the number of people joining police forces is now at a ten-year high.
The Government has accepted in full the PRRB’s recommendations on pay for police constable degree apprenticeships. Forces should appoint apprentice constables on a starting salary of between £18,000 and Pay Point 1 (ie £23,586).
NPCC lead for reward and recognition, namely chief constable Francis Habgood, explained: “The stated increase in police officer pay of 2% in 2018-2019 is the maximum increase that the majority of police forces can afford without additional funding. We know that hard working officers would have liked to see more. They’re feeling the strain from increased demand and have experienced seven years of pay restraint. We can promise them that we’re working with Police and Crime Commissioners and the Home Office to review our demand and resources in the run up to the next Government spending review.”
Habgood added: “The Police Remuneration Review Body is independent and assesses evidence from a range of perspectives when reaching their decision. We’re concerned that not following its recommendations undermines confidence in the process.”
Damning response from the Police Federation
The Police Federation of England and Wales has slammed “the contempt shown for officers putting their lives on the line as yet another ‘derisory’ 2% pay offer is handed down”.
On the same day that a Bill to protect officers against vicious assaults was due to progress through Parliament, it was also revealed that “the so-called 2% rise will actually leave officers financially worse off and is worth only a 0.85% increase in real terms”* while, according to the Police Federation, the Government has ignored the recommendations of the PRRB for the second year running.
In real terms, states the Police Federation, police officer pay has now decreased by around 18% since 2009-2010.
Ché Donald, vice-chair of the Federation, said: “This derisory announcement flies in the face of a lot of hot air spouted by the Home Office and the Government over the past few months. Less than two weeks ago, the Home Secretary was proudly pleased to hand Bravery Awards to two officers who took on the London Bridge terrorists. At our Annual Conference in May, he said he would stick up for officers and fight for a better deal. We warned then he was on probation, but now this is looking more and more like paying lip service, when in reality this pay award is an insult to those who serve day in, day out. It means that an officer at the start of their service is going to be a miserly £2.50 better off each week.”
Donald added: “No wonder a growing number of officers are leaving the service. In the past two years, there has been an increase of more than 30% in voluntary resignations. There were nearly 2,000 last year alone. We are literally haemorrhaging officers. Much of this has to do with the fact that they simply can’not afford to stay in the job.”
Honouring the PRRB process
Donald criticised the fact that the Government has ignored the recommendations of the PRRB (an independent group which advises the Government on police pay) for the second year running.
“The Government must honour the PRRB process which is based on evidence. We asked for 3.4% so that officers could be paid fairly for the dangerous job they do after years of austerity. The PRRB recommended a total of 3%. We have played ball. We submit evidence to the pay review body, yet Government dismisses its recommendation. In the coming weeks, we will be consulting with our local Federation colleagues to determine the next steps to take.”
Donald continued: “The Assaults Bill recognises the dangers involved in policing, and that some officers sadly pay the ultimate sacrifice. Why can’t the Government honour officers’ commitment to keep the public safe with a decent pay packet for a change? We’re not asking for the Earth. We’re just asking for fairness.”
New apprenticeship starting wage
As stated, the pay settlement also announces the introduction of a new apprenticeship starting wage of £18,000 per year – nearly £2,000 less than the yearly salary of a probationer constable.
Donald observed: “This amount totally undermines what the police service sets out to do. It’s derisory. Police officers used to feel valued and appreciated, but when Government ignores the recommendation of its own independent pay review body, then police officers feel demoralised, fed up, unappreciated and undervalued. That’s not a good place for policing to be in. There are fewer people dealing with more calls, yet in the Government’s eyes they’re only worth a real term pay cut. Police officers go above and beyond what’s expected of them every day. I know that this latest news on pay is making many officers ask themselves why.”
*According to the Police Federation, the so-called 2% rise will actually leave officers financially worse off (when inflation is accounted for) and is worth only a 0.85% increase in real terms. The 0.85% figure is derived from the fact that, of last year’s 2%, only 1% was consolidated. That 1% has now been removed by the Government for this year’s pay award, so taking into account pension contributions, the actual uplift is worth approximately 0.85% to police constables. The increase will be paid from September 2018
**The full statement from the Home Office can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/police-to-receive-2-pay-increase-in-2018-19