Napo has sent our 2017 National Probation Pay Claim to probation Ministers and all CRC chiefs, including the Rise Mutual.
The claim identifies the numerous failings in the current pay system and stresses the urgency around addressing these by introducing a new probation-wide pay system that offers more transparency, fairness and professional credibility; whilst being more competitive and sustainable.
Assistant General Secretary Dean Rogers, who is leading Napo’s negotiating team in the ongoing NPS Pay Review explains: “The current pay system is utterly broken. Promises made in the 2008 pay reforms have not been met, mostly because since 2010 the Government’s pay freeze has restricted the promised progression.
“The 2008 deal was miss-sold to people. If a bank made financial promises they then didn’t honour the Government would be ordering them to pay compensation. Now is payback time for probation!
“The longer these issues go unaddressed the worse and more ingrained they become and the more expensive it is to put them right. Only fundamental restructuring will now even begin to improve things.”
The claim calls for an immediate increase of up to £2,500 for all probation staff below their current maxima and an increase of at least £1,500 for all staff on their band maxima — recognising they have had no consolidated increase since 2010.
All pay must be fully pensionable (under the rule of the LGPS) and consolidated to start addressing the pay gaps.
The creation of HMPPS and problems identified by HM Inspector of Probation in numerous CRCs adds urgency to arguments for probation wide pay reform.
As NPS staff are expected to work ever more closely with colleagues in other related services, or even in the same teams as people in prison settings, the size of the probation pay gap is amplified.
Unless all staff get a significant increase probation will be an unrealistic and uncompetitive career option.
This is evident at all grades. PSOs earning less than prison equivalents; POs earning £6,000 less than PCs on the beat despite needing a post-graduate qualification because of poor progression; and managers grades falling similarly behind posts in social work.
Meanwhile, CRCs are being told by the Inspectorate they need to recruit and retain more experienced staff but wouldn’t have the money to compete with the NPS unless their contract price is adjusted as part of the Probation Service Review.
The claim also seeks to use pay reform as a driver for more professional development and support.
In finding budgets for more pay, Napo thinks employers’ need to consider if they need more staff, especially in managerial roles, and make sure that performance management vastly improves across probation with no links to the discredited MoJ performance pay models.
To achieve this in a workable, transparent and sustainable way Napo thinks there needs to be clearer professional standards and a framework across probation. As part of linking pay with the professional agenda, Napo are also taking the unusual step of including a review of whistleblowing procedures, particularly with a view to promoting better practice around transparency in HMIP and contract management.
The claim also highlights the particular problems in London and the South-East, where acute recruitment and retention difficulties are already evident. The claim calls for the existing London weighting to rise to at least £5,000 and consideration of a new South-East allowance of at least £2,500.
However, the claim recognises this wouldn’t fully address the economic challenges presented by London and also calls for joint consideration of wider structural reforms longer term, e.g. facility for employers to pay directly towards accommodation and pension contributions if staff work in hard to fill roles.
Dean Rogers told NQ: “This is a different type of pay claim that sets out what needs to be done now but also what foundations we need to lay going forward.
“The scale of the problems are too great to solve in one go overnight so any reform will have to be phased in over a few years.
“Knowing how little trust there is after past broken promises, big increases are needed early on –- to show the employers are serious but also to reduce the pressure in subsequent years of other structural repairs surface and need addressing.
But while all this is complex it isn’t rocket science and if there is a will Napo will help them find a way. This could be a key driver in making positive change happen. We’re determined to play our part and we’re starting by challenging Ministers to show the same commitment.”