Council to pay staff more to attract and retain staff
Shropshire Council is proposing to increase staff pay to help retain those with essential skills and expertise, and attract others.
This proposal, which will be considered by Full Council on Thursday 17 May 2018, follows a recently agreed national pay award, offering council staff a two-year pay increase totalling four per cent, with two per cent backdated to April 2018 and the remaining two per cent from April 2019.
Pay in the public sector and in local government in particular has been restricted since 2010, with no annual pay award for staff from 2010 to 2014, and increases capped at one per cent since 2016.
This, coupled with changes to the council’s staff terms and conditions, which included a two stage pay cut in 2011 and 2012, has meant that salaries have fallen some way behind rates of pay for local government nationally. Salaries are up to six per cent adrift from the national rates of pay, which makes it difficult to attract, recruit and retain staff.
For many years, the National Joint Council (NJC) have negotiated pay on behalf of all those they represent. Previously, the NJC have negotiated a percentage increase to be applied to existing pay structures. However, from April 2019, the minimum pay point has been given a specific value of £9 per hour. This change has an understandable knock on effect for the rest of the workforce, which has created an opportunity to look at pay across the board.
Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Deputy Leader, said:
“Shropshire Council is a large and complex organisation which, every day, delivers over 150 services that make a huge difference to people’s lives. It is important that the right people with the right skills and experience are retained to deliver this important work.
“This change will see staff that have been working incredibly hard in difficult conditions rewarded, which is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.
“If approved, this means we can restore NJC rates of pay sooner.
“Although this has been instigated by a national change negotiated by the NJC, if agreed, these proposals will mean that we can start to pay our staff the nationally-negotiated rates sooner (1 October 2018). Then from April 2019 a minimum of £9 per hour.”
The report also proposes an increase to the senior pay bands following a review by the Local Government Association in March 2018. This review found that the council is paying its senior staff less than other comparative councils, and that it needed to address this if it wanted to recruit top talent to its most senior roles.
Analysis of the pay data contained in the review suggested that the salary for the chief executive post should be pitched somewhere within the range of £160,000 to £175,000.
Approval of the proposal to Full Council would see the chief executive position increase to £150,000 per annum, bringing it more in line with other councils.
It would also see the salary for the recently vacant position of director of place and enterprise, which is responsible for economic growth and the council’s commercial ambitions, alongside the three other directors, increase to £120,000 – £130,000 per annum.
Peter Nutting, Shropshire Council’s Leader, said:
“Shropshire attracts top talent because we offer a fantastic place to live, alongside a progressive and challenging work environment. Salary is not the only reason that appropriately qualified people come to Shropshire, but pay should not be a barrier to ensuring the best people continue to want to work here.
“Changes in legislation mean that we have to pay, at the lower grades, the same as other councils. This pushes all salaries upwards. Our staff are our most valuable resource, and fair pay is something that we need to restore, following pay cuts in 2011 and 2012, in order avoid losing staff to other organisations.
“We want to adjust pay, as it is the fair, ‘right thing to do’. We plan to phase in the changes over the next two years, slightly ahead of the Government’s pay settlement, so that our pay levels catch up by 2019/20.
“Although our finances are still challenging, this is something we have to do. For the budget, there is never a good time to increase pay, but all employers know that you have to pay the going rate.”
“Our staff are loyal and committed to Shropshire, and there are about 40% less staff now than in 2012, so we recognise everyone is working extremely hard.
“With my Cabinet colleagues we have already travelled a long way towards creating financial stability, and we are driving ambitious plans to make our communities and economy thrive.”
A major issue for Shropshire Council is around key workers. Social workers for adult social care and children’s social care are hard to attract at the best of times, but this is made more difficult when proposed salaries are not comparable with the national average, or even surrounding counties.
Karen Bradshaw, Shropshire Council’s director of children’s services, said:
“We spend far too much money on agency staff as we simply cannot attract and retain enough social workers. It is testament to the skill and ability of children’s services staff that we were recognised with a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted, but if we hope to retain that award we need to invest and pay a fair salary.”
The pay change comes at a good time for staff as Shropshire Council are undergoing a huge transformation, with new ways of working, a more commercial approach, significant investment in economic growth and the Digital Transformation Programme: all contributing to an overall change. This will mean all jobs will adapt and change, and ultimately the council will employ fewer staff, but more highly-skilled staff.
Peter Nutting added:
“The pay decrease was always going to be temporary, and this increase would be a fitting reward for staff who continue to work incredibly hard during these difficult times. As a council, we are undergoing one of the largest transformation programmes in the country, with the scale of our ambition being noted by the recent Corporate Peer Challenge.”
For the Council agenda, please click here – ‘Amendment to Pay and Reward Policy’ is agenda item 11.