|Why won’t the Government pay the police the full amount?
11 Dec 2007
This is the letter Sir George has received from the Home Secretary:
I am writing to you to set out the facts regarding the police officer pay rise for this year.
I have enormous respect for the dedication of police officers. I am clear that we need pay settlements that reward police officers fairly and enable us to recruit and retain them. Alongside this, of course, I have a responsibility to ensure that resources for policing are used as effectively as possible and that the government is able to deliver increases across the board to public sector workers.
In law, the final decision on police officer pay in England and Wales rests with the Home Secretary. In reaching my decision, I have considered very carefully the recommendation which was made to me by the Police Arbitration Tribunal. I accepted the Tribunal's finding on the size of increase in police officer pay, but, after considering carefully the Tribunal's overall recommendation, I did not accept their finding on the implementation date. As a result of my decision, police officers have received, from 1 December, a 2.5% increase in their pay scales. The staging ensures that the total cost of the pay award will be maintained within the government's interest target of 2.0%
The police reward package is fair and highly competitive. From 1 December 2007, all police constables will be paid more than £21,534. This compares favourably with the position in 1997, when the starting pay was £15,438. That is an increase of 39%: 9% above inflation. Pay at the top of the constable scale has increased by a very similar amount, so those who have the longest service now receive £33,810 a year after this latest award. Additionally, in 2002-03, we introduced competency-related threshold payments worth £1,122 for many constables, to take them above the top of the scale, and Special Priority Payments of up to £3,000 for particular posts which were harder to fill.
In coming to my decision about police officer pay, I have a responsibility to take into account affordability and consistency with Government pay poUcy, including the maintenance of low inflation. For these reasons, I decided that the implementation of the pay award should be staged from 1 December, rather than introduced from 1 September. This will release some £40 million, which will go towards a better police service and is the equivalent in value of over 800 more officers than would otherwise have been affordable this year. I attach priority to maintaining police officer numbers to ensure that police officers have colleagues alongside them, as well as ensuring fair pay settlements.
In the Police Negotiating Board discussions that preceded arbitration, the Official Side (including the Home Office, the Association of Police Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers) made an offer that would have increased pay scales by 2.325%. The Tribunal findings, which followed failure to agree in the Police Negotiating Board, recommended a higher figure of 2.5% for this increase, which I have accepted. That is not without a cost ¬around an extra £12 million per annum. But it means that the full increase is locked into police officers' salaries for the future and so they are better off in the longer term.
The pay award of 2.5% is similar to those decided this year for other public sector jobs such as nurses and prison officers - which were also staged to below 2.0% - and higher than those for judges, the senior military, doctors and dentists. Indeed, the Tribunal's calculation of 2.5% is based on the median average of pay rises, of which all but one came from the public sector.
Recruitment and retention of police officers is among the best in the public sector. Police forces report strong levels of applications. There are very low officer resignation rates, with only 1.5% of officers voluntarily leaving the police service (England and Wales) in the year ending 31 March 2007. The equivalent figure for the whole economy is 11.5%, or 7.8% across the public service.
I hope that you agree that this decision represents a fair reward for both the police and taxpayers, which include police officers themselves.