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Pay deal shows need for fundamental review, think tank says

A fundamental review of officer pay is needed to tackle living costs, the policing think tank has warned.

Focusing pay on Uplift recruits will impact on specialist roles – and Whitehall must rethink how policing is paid for the Police Foundation has said. 

Director Rick Muir told Police Oracle: “We’ve got to address the fact that there’s a massive shortage of investigators. It has to be a fundamental review, rather than just going year to year and debating the increase."

The government has already signalled that the Treasury won’t be covering the full cost of the 5% average rise. 

Treasury Minister Simon Clarke warned £300m will be needed to be found in cuts or the precept in order to fund the pay rise.

He described the increase as “by recent standards over the last 20 years extremely generous”.

Mr Muir said the Treasury’s approach is now out-of-date.

“The government really does need to put the money in. You can’t just expect the Police Service to find the money down the back of the sofa.”

He added there was little room left for forces to make cuts: “Most of the efficiencies were made in the austerity era. All of the easy things like selling police stations have been done. There are some ideas, like national procurement, but they won’t deliver the big savings being demanded.”

Part of the solution had to be a review of police funding Mr Muir told Police Oracle: “It’s 10 years since the Windsor review. We’ve got to look at the competitiveness of pay compared to other sectors and all the issues around the cost of living. It’s time to take a step back.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the next Chancellor will now have to re-run the spending review and decide whether to borrow to cover the costs or cut budgets, headcount or the range and quality of service provision.

It said: “These pay awards are below inflation, but above what was budgeted for when the government laid out cash spending plans last autumn. What remains to be seen is whether the government will top up its spending plans to fund these higher-than-expected pay awards, or to require the costs to be met from within existing budgets and allow service quality to deteriorate as a result.”

The reaction came as officers in Scotland signalled they too have had enough of yearly haggling.

Police officers should “not be in a position” where they have to “constantly fight and argue” for a pay settlement that is fair, the general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has said.

His members have withdrawn goodwill and have rejected a pay offer from the Scottish Government.

Calum Steele said police were “not even at the starting point” in pay negotiations which saw the federation unanimously reject a 3.4% increase as “derisory”.

He said: “The fact that the NHS Dentists have been offered 4.5%, other NHS workers have been offered 5%. There’s a high probability that teachers are going to be balloted on industrial action, the fact that we’re not even at that starting point, is in itself a significant detriment to police officers.”

Fed members will escalate action in its pay dispute if it does not receive a better offer by 5 August.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We are monitoring the situation in relation to the withdrawal of goodwill. We will put arrangements in place to ensure any impact on the public is kept to an absolute minimum.

“We recognise the considerable goodwill officers bring to their roles on a daily basis as they keep people safe across the country, and this is also valued by the communities they serve.”

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