SCP Review – What it’s all about and the UNISON Consultation

The national employers and unions agreed a two year pay deal the 2nd year of which involved changes to the Spinal Column Points (SCP’s) used on the national pay spine. This was necessary because the SCP’s had become squeezed up at the lower end of the pay spine.

This was caused by the National Minimum Wage eating into the pay spine and overtaking some of the lower SCP’s and higher pay increases for the lower paid end of the pay spine; resulting in negligible differences in annual salaries as workers progressed up the pay spine.

The national agreement came up with a pay spine that aimed to have 2% steps between each SCP and also to keep well ahead of the National Minimum Wage. The combination of these two factors has seen a decrease in SCP’s at the lower end of the pay spine our Scale A to D and additional SCP’s in Scale E, F and G. Please note although the national pay spine is agreed nationally how salary grades fit into the pay spine is agreed locally between unions and NCC.

The agreed pay deal shows how the SCP’s change in 2019. From SCP 38 and above the NCC rates are different because of an ancient local agreement.

Pay Scales 2019

The national pay agreement recognised these changes could cause significant difficulties to some local authorities as it could result in an unbalanced pay structure. UNISON has been in negotiations with NCC to look at how this affects our pay structure. NCC’s initial position was to simply transfer existing SCP’s on to the new national pay spine. UNISON were concerned this would cut across some of the Fair Pay principles both of us had previously agreed to. The big concerns were:

  • The same SCP would be used for Scale A as the bottom of Scale B so in theory people could be doing jobs at different levels yet paid the same rate
  • Scale F would increase from 4 SCPs to 6 SCP’s meaning it would take 5 years to get to the top of the salary scale

We were also unhappy that Scale E was moving from 4 to 5 SCP’s and Scale G from 3 to 5 SCP’s. This was inconsistent with the fact that Scale’s H to J were only 3 SCP’s. Pay logic goes, the higher paid the job the longer it takes to become fully up to speed so higher paid jobs should have longer not shorter pay spines. WE believe Scales E to G should have 3 SCP’s. Talks are on-going to look at the costing’s of delivering a pay structure that delivers on the joint NCC/UNISON pay principles and also UNISON’s aspirations for a 3 SCP maximum on Scales up to J. We are of course working within the financial constraints that the Government’s Austerity Agenda has imposed upon local government. We hope a proposal will come out of the 4th December Personnel Committee which we can ballot members on.

Jonathan Dunning, Branch Secretary