In yesterday’s Norfolk County Council Cabinet meeting, the framework was laid for a 1% pay increase for staff next year. It still has a lot of hurdles to go through, but it seems likely that it will be approved in next year’s budget. Normally, I would support such a move, especially when the costs of living are soaring, but no one quite seems to realise just how much this will cost.
In 2009 (the last year for which I can find figures) Norfolk County Council directly employed 20,211 people. There is not an easily accessible figure for the average salary of NCC workers, but the overall average UK salary is £22,800. County council employees would probably be higher than that because of the nature of their jobs, but we’ll use this figure as it’s the most accurate available. So a 1% increase on £22,800 would be £23,028, or an increase of £228. It still doesn’t look that big, but what if we multiply that by the number of employees (20,211)? Then we can see that the total cost of the increase would be over £4.6 million.
In normal circumstances I could support such an increase, but not when we are in such a time of fiscal austerity. Over the next few years Norfolk County Council will be cutting around £150 million from its budget, and is in the process of getting rid of a 1000 employes. Surely, it would be better to retain these staff on a pay freeze, so that more services could be maintained? Or to take that £4.6 million and use it to pay for adult social services or saving bus routes? It looks all the more sickening when you remember that the Chief Executive, who earns more than the Prime Minister, refused to take a pay cut. It certainly feels to me, and no doubt to everyone else in Norfolk, that the county council are giving a big wedge of money to their employees, at the expense of their electorate, and those who rely on their services.