Prison Officers: Pay

(asked on 22nd February 2021) - View Source

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to his oral Answer on 2 February 2021, Official Report, column 829, what effect his assessment of the times in which we live has had on the level of his support for the Prison Service Pay Review Body’s recommendation 3.

Answered by
Lucy Frazer Portrait
Lucy Frazer
Financial Secretary (HM Treasury)
This question was answered on 25th February 2021

The 20/21 PSPRB report was received on 5 June 2020 and included a recommendation to uplift the pay of Band 3 prison staff on modernised terms and conditions by £3,000, ‘recommendation 3’. This represented a substantial increase for our largest staffing group and was ultimately not accepted by the government, on the basis of the exceptional costs associated with implementing the recommendation, the impact on the overall prison service pay structure, and the changing labour market conditions due to the exceptional economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes in the labour market as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the unpredictable changing state of the economy means that the assumptions made by the PSPRB upon which they based their recommendations have also changed. The decision to reject this recommendation was announced on 10 December 2020. Prison officers did however benefit from awards of between 2.5% and 7.5% for the current financial year (2020/21). This delivered an above inflation increase and is the third year in a row that prison staff have benefitted from an award of at least 2%.

The estimated cost of recommendation 3 is £46.8m per year. This includes the cost required to apply the uplift to non-operational prison service colleagues paid within the same band. The total annual cost of recommendation 3 alone represents a higher cost than that of the entire proposals made by HMPPS for the 2020/21 pay round, so presented clear challenges to afforadbilty.

Affordability considerations took into account value for money for the taxpayer, as well as competing funding priorities, such as key investments in prison safety and security, leadership and professionalisation, and staff wellbeing which all impact significantly upon staff.

Prior to the decision to reject ‘recommendation 3’, the Ministry of Justice considered the possible impacts on recruitment, retention and morale of doing so. However, recruitment, retention and staff morale levels are all driven by a range of factors and an increase in pay alone cannot be assumed to be a fix for these issues. These issues are continually under review by the department, as fundamental issues in our policy. There are no plans to publish further analysis on recommendation 3.

We are currently finalising the evidence to the Prison Service Pay Review Body for the 2021/22 pay round, in line with the pay policy set out by the Chancellor in November last year. This will be published and submitted to the PSPRB in due course.

This content was generated for your convenience by Parallel Parliament and does not form part of the official record.
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