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Following the announcement that members in the probation unions had voted to accept the offer on the table from the NPS, Ian Lawrence, Napo general secretary wrote to the justice secretary David Gauke outlining the two tier pay system in probation that would now exist unless action is taken.
The letter reads:
Pay in the Probation Service
Just over four years ago, the then Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling implemented the Governments ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ programme.
You will of course be aware of Napo’s ongoing campaign to seek reunification of the Probation Service; this has evolved in light of the lessons learned from what has been a highly controversial outsourcing policy that has been the subject of considerable scrutiny by Parliament and widespread criticism by the Probation Inspectorate.
I understand that the Government will be submitting its response to the ‘Strengthening Probation, Building Confidence’ consultation exercise in the New Year, and my team and I would welcome the opportunity to engage with you and explain our perspective, before you finalise your thinking.
A two-tier pay system in Probation
Last week the three Probation unions resoundingly accepted the pay offer for staff working within the NPS. This resulted from the constructive engagement over the summer between Unions and HMPPS and NPS Officials, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and Under-Secretary Rory Stewart for your support in securing a respectable pay remit from the Treasury.
Whilst all the unions are pleased that a negotiated settlement proved possible, which included a clear commitment to jointly work on a competency framework and a Licence to Practice, you will not be surprised to hear that this success has brought with it some understandable demands and considerable resentment from the members we represent in the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies. They are giving me a very clear message that pay equity should now be applied across both arms of the Probation service.
In light of this, the Probation Unions are already engaging with CRC owners to seek their support for our pay equity campaign. Whilst we have received a mixture of responses so far, it is evident that the NPS pay settlement is causing your CRC providers serious concern about their ability to maintain even minimum standards of service delivery within the remaining life of their contracts.
Moreover, and as we predicted would happen some time ago, we are seeing clear evidence of CRC staff starting to explore (or already applying for) the many unfilled vacancies that exist within the NPS.
Napo has made publicly clear why we believe additional funding should be made available to resolve the ‘two-tier’ pay situation that has now been established.
Frankly, I find it very difficult to explain to our members why half a billion pounds has been found to sustain the CRC contractors, but pay awards (such as have been made) over and above the 1% contractual entitlement are vastly inferior to the NPS pay settlement.
In the longer term, your intention to terminate the current CRC contracts and ‘re-marketise’ service provision under the guise of 10 new contract package areas, looks to be simply unsustainable.
Unless there is to be a consistent pay and reward regime across both arms of the service with adequate financial provision being made available to enable prospective contractors to match NPS pay rates, it is difficult to see how future providers will be able to retain existing staff or recruit to the required delivery standards.
Irrespective of our obvious differences over the merits of privatisation, there is a serious danger that unless steps are taken to bring about equity on pay, then service provision will suffer further and inevitably bring with it a corresponding impact on community safety.
I hope it will be possible to arrange a long overdue meeting between us where we can seek to address the important issues that I have set out above for your consideration.
I look forward to your reply.