Fair pay rise for council staff would be affordable, says UNISON

Headline cost is halved by economic benefits

The pay claim for council workers is affordable and will provide benefits for the wider economy across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, according to a new analysis published today (Wednesday) by UNISON.

UNISON, Unite and GMB are calling for wages to rise to £10 per hour for the lowest paid local government workers, with a 10% rise for other members of staff for 2020/21.

New research by Landman Economics, commissioned by UNISON, shows the actual net cost of the claim is less than half (49%) the overall projected cost of £1.6bn.

If council workers got a decent pay rise, central government would save hundreds of millions of pounds, says UNISON. Council employees include refuse collectors, library staff, teaching assistants and care workers who help communities to function.

This is because employees would be earning more so wouldn’t need to claim additional benefits and would pay extra tax and national insurance. People would also spend the extra money in their pockets giving a boost to local economies, says UNISON.

Years of pay freezes or minimal rises mean that many people have lost more than a fifth of their pay in the past decade, says the union.

UNISON is calling on the Treasury to fund a fair pay rise for staff as a matter of urgency. The union’s analysis found the true net cost of funding the council pay rise would be £789m.

UNISON head of local government Jon Richards said: “Council budgets are under unbelievable strain after years of cuts. It’s high time ministers found the money to ensure the people providing local services at the heart of every community are treated fairly.

“They must give councils the money to pay the people who keep our streets safe, educate our children, maintain our parks and care for the vulnerable. Otherwise experienced staff will continue to leave for better paid jobs elsewhere and then it’s local communities that will be the losers.”

Notes to editors:
– A full copy of the report by Landman Economics can be found here.
– From 2010 to 2020, local government workers have been subject to a combination of pay freezes and minimal increases. Under a two-year deal awarded agreed in 2018, the majority of employees were given 2% annual rises.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Anthony Barnes T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E: l.chinchen@unison.co.uk