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Support staff pay award 2023/24

November 2023

The local government pay offer (which covers school support staff) has now been agreed for 2023. Two of the three unions, Unison and GMB, agreed to the pay deal. As the majority seat holders on the trade union side, this means the deal has now been accepted. Unite will be continuing to take industrial action in some councils.

The pay rise is £1,925 for all staff. This ranges from a 9.42% pay raise for the lowest paid who currently earn £20,441 to 3.88% for those at the top of the pay spine. This will be backdated to 1 April 2023. 

You can access further details here.

September 2023

The National Joint Council (NJC) pay award for 2023 has not yet been agreed nationally.

The NJC trade union side met on 19 September to discuss the national employers’ full and final pay offer, but no decision on the pay offer was reached. The trade unions have confirmed they will reconvene after GMB’s ballot closes.

The GMB ballot will run from Tuesday 12 September to Tuesday 24 October 2023.

August 2023: update

Earlier this month, the three NJC trade unions wrote to the employers, asking them to return to the negotiating table. The employers responded on 17 August, confirming that their original offer is the final offer and that no further ones will be made.

At this point in time, UNISON has confirmed it will not be asking its members to take industrial action.

GMB Union has announced it will be conducting an industrial action ballot of members working for more than 2,000 local authorities in September and October, and will be asking those members to vote for strike action.

In Unite’s recent industrial action ballot, the requirements for industrial action were met in 23 local authorities; Unite members are now preparing to announce industrial action across regions in England and Wales. Unite is also re-balloting in certain councils, where action is strongly supported by reps and members.

August 2023

Unite have confirmed that workers at 16 councils across England and Wales have voted for strike action over pay; the ballot results for further areas are expected in the coming weeks.

The areas currently confirmed are: Bath and North East Somerset, Cardiff, Chesterfield, Cornwall, Coventry, Cumberland, Cynon Valley, Darlington, Derby and North Tyneside, Gwynedd, Ispwich, Plymouth, Sefton, Warrington, Wigan and Wrexham.  

July 2023: update

UNISON’s strike ballot has reached the required threshold (mostly in smaller councils and individual schools). UNISON is awaiting the outcome of Unite’s strike ballots, which close on 28 July, before confirming its next steps. 

July 2023

UNISON’s ballot has now closed, and the results are pending.

Unite’s strike ballots are running in England and Wales in four phases between 13 June and 28 July 2023.

Following the rejection in the consultative ballot, GMB will be issuing members with ballot papers on the subject of taking industrial action in the upcoming autumn term.

May 2023

  • The Unison pay ballot will run from Tuesday 23 May until Tuesday 4 July in England and Wales; the ballot in Northern Ireland will open in August
  • Unite has confirmed that members have rejected the local government pay offer in the consultative survey, and will now be moving to a formal ballot, set to open at the end of May 2023
  • GMB has confirmed that its members also rejected the pay offer in a consultative ballot, and will move to an industrial action ballot unless negotiations are reopened.

March 2023

UNISON has announced a ballot for industrial action, while GMB and Unite members will be consulted on the basis of a recommendation that the offer (see the February 2023 update, below) be rejected.

UNISON has confirmed its ballot period will not get underway until mid/late May, and it will be balloting on a disaggregated basis. This means that action could be taken at each individual council/school where a turnout of over 50% is secured (if members vote in favour strike action).

This is likely to mean the implementation of any pay award agreed for support staff will occur later than the 1 April 2023 ‘start’ time. Any pay award agreed will be backdated to 1 April 2023. You can access further information here.

February 2023

The national employers have submitted an offer with effect from 1 April 2023:

  • an increase of £1,925 (pro rata for part-time employees) to be paid as a consolidated, permanent addition on all National Joint Council (NJC) pay points two to 43 inclusive. This equates to a 9.42% pay increase for the lowest point through to 3.88% for the highest point on the scale
  • For those on pay points above the maximum of the pay spine, the employers have offered an increase of 3.88%. 
  • With effect from 1 April 2023, an increase of 3.88% on all allowances.

In addition, the employers have proposed exploratory conversations on the following aspects:

  • “A review of the pay spine, including looking at the top end, and discussions about the link between how remuneration can be used to improve retention.”
  • A review of all the 2013 role profiles to see whether any of the terminology needs refreshing to take account of, for example, technological advances and new ways of working that may have taken place over the last 10 years

The rest of the claim has been rejected. 

January 2023

The support staff unions (UNISON, GMB and Unite) have just submitted their claim with local government employers over the pay and conditions offer for local government support staff for 2023/24.

The claim calls for:

an increase of RPI + 2% on all spinal column points.

In addition:

  • Consideration of a flat rate increase to hourly rates of pay to bring the minimum rate up to £15 per hour within two years

  • A review and improvement of NJC terms for family leave and pay

  • A review of job evaluation outcomes for school staff whose day to day work includes working on special educational needs (SEN)

  • An additional day of annual leave for personal or well-being purposes

  • A homeworking allowance for staff for whom it is a requirement to work from home

  • A reduction in the working week by two hours

  • A review of the pay spine, including looking at the top end, and discussions about the link between how remuneration can be used to improve retention.

NAHT's view on the local government pay scales

We do not believe that the current local government pay scales offer enough flexibility to recognise the status and seniority of an SBL role, nor do they take account of the growth in the scope and responsibility of school business leaders' roles over recent years. We are therefore pleased to see the request for a review of job descriptions and pay bandings for support staff, which could be a positive step forward in improving the situation. 

However, we are clear that in the long term, there should be a national framework that defines the roles and sets out the pay and conditions of all those employed in a national, publicly funded education system, including school business leaders. We have repeatedly and extensively made this case to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), including in our latest work, which you can find here.

We continue to call for a significant pay increase for all teachers and leaders, including school business leaders, which is fully funded by the government. In the interim, NAHT has developed member advice around school business leader pay and grading, to support individuals with their personal circumstances, and offer support to individual members with their cases for pay reviews.

First published 03 November 2023