Public Sector Pay Background & Car Allowance Threat

Local Government Pay Versus Public Sector Counterparts

Alongside their counterparts in the public sector, pay for our members working in local government is far lower than the pay for equivalent workers – as it has been for some time. The table below shows how the bottom five pay grades in local government have fallen well below the level of pay for equivalent pay points for police staff, staff employed in higher education, probation and NHS employees. The bottom pay rate for local government workers is over £2000 a year lower than equivalent NHS and Probation staff receive and more than £2,500 a year less than equivalent Police staff.

The Employer’s own 2011 Local Government Pay and Workforce Report states that “local government have the lowest average earnings compared to other groups of workers in the public sector”.

Table below: lowest NJC Pay Points Compared to Equivalent Police, Higher Education and Probation Employees:

Pay Points Across the Public Sector

In light of the impending transfer of public health services to local authorities, the comparison between pay for workers in local government and the NHS is particularly relevant. Local government is in direct competition with the NHS in many local labour markets and low pay in local government will impact on the ability of local authorities to recruit and retain staff and their loyalty in the future.

Car allowances and mileage rates under attack

Currently the Employers are offering our members a 1% pay rise in return for cuts to car mileage rates this year, the arbitration clause in the Green Book and further cuts next year. This includes removing NJC mileage rates from our collective agreement – the Green Book – and replacing them with HMRC rates (45p per mile.) This rate is too low to compensate local government workers properly for use of their cars, especially given the large increases in petrol prices in recent years and the fact that car allowances have been frozen since 2010. NJC car allowances need review but on the basis that our members are properly reimbursed for using their cars for work purposes.

UNISON has proposed to the Employers that the NJC uses the AA guides on motoring costs recently adopted for NHS employees as part of an NJC green travel scheme to include other modes of transport, public transport, car pools and the full costs of running a car. The Employers will only consider this if any resulting policy is voluntary.

Implementation of HMRC rates has serious implications for many of our members delivering frontline services. Many local government staff need to use their cars to do their jobs.

A UNISON survey of 14,800 local government members carried out in February found that social workers, environmental health officers, planning officers, trading standards officers and housing officers are being particularly hard hit by local cuts to car allowances.

The table below sets out in full extent to which our members are subsidising their employer. The figures stated have been arrived at by comparing the rate for essential car users allowances, stuck at 2010 levels, with the actual cost of travel in 2012. To obtain accurate figures for the actual cost of travel, UNISON commissioned a technical expert to up-rate the mileage formula for 2011 and 2012. The table below sets out the subsidies according to distance travelled and engine size.

Essential car user subsidy provided by NJC workers, 2012:

Essential Car User Subsidy

So, an NJC worker travelling 11,000 miles in a 1200 cc engine sized car, is paying £489 from their own wages to simply carry out their job.

UNISON are negotiating hard with the employers’ side (the Local Government Association) to arrive at an acceptable offer that really does recognise the sacrifices members have made to keep local government afloat.


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