The NJC pay consultation for 2023 has now commenced – the claim is for RPI + 2%.

The UNISON NJC Committee met on 8 November 2022 to consider the contents of the NJC pay claim for 2023, as well as the process for consulting members. This circular sets out the issues the Committee discussed, before explaining the process for the consultation of members.

The 2022 pay settlement

For NJC 2022, we submitted a claim for an increase of £2000 or RPI, whichever was the greater. The Employers offered an increase of £1925 (higher in London due to the way London Weighting is incorporated), which, after consulting members, was accepted. 63.5% of UNISON members voted to accept.

This was the largest pay increase achieved for local government workers in many years, but it was still below the rate of inflation, at the time of a cost of living crisis.

The NJC Committee are therefore proposing that our claim for 2023 should specifically seek an increase that is above inflation.

The 2023 pay claim – proposed headline

The NJC Committee proposes that the 2023 pay claim is for an increase of RPI + 2%, and the Committee is asking branches to consult members on whether they support this proposal. RPI inflation, the inflation measure which UNISON believes is the most accurate reflection of the realities our members face, is currently at 12.6%.

The two other recognised NJC trade unions, GMB and Unite, are consulting their members on the same proposal.

The NJC Committee also recognises that mileage is a huge concern for many members. It is therefore also proposed that the 2023 pay claim has a strong focus on improving mileage rates. It is also important that we continue to campaign for improved mileage rates from His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which many local government employers now use.

Local government funding

There is a funding crisis in local government, with local authorities facing a combined funding gap of £3.19 billion for the 2023/24 financial year rising to over £5 billion in 2024/25. These figures are based on recent UNISON research. And we know that schools are struggling financially due to the Government’s year on year cuts in real terms public spending.

However, throughout the union we are campaigning hard for more funding from the Westminster Conservative Government for councils, and pay must be considered in this context. The Westminster Government can definitely afford to fund a decent pay increase for local government workers if enough pressure is applied. We know that far more can be done to make money available – for example some multi-national companies avoid paying huge amounts of tax, money that could be used for local government pay. The money is there if we can get the Government to fund councils and council workers properly.

In previous years we have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling on him to fully fund local government pay increases and we will continue to put pressure on the Treasury during the forthcoming pay round. We also continue to push the employers and the Local Government Associations of the UK’s nations to work with us and demand that the Government fund a decent pay increase for council and school workers.

Low pay in local government

Low pay continues to be a concern in local government. The bottom three spinal column points are now £10.50, £10.60 and £10.79 outside London. These are below the new Foundation Living Wage rates, of £10.90 outside London and £11.95 in London, which come into effect in May 2023.

UNISON has existing Conference policy calling for a £15 an hour minimum wage.

The proposal

The NJC Committee has agreed that our core objective must continue to focus on the restoration of decent pay levels for all members, and that we need a bold, straightforward claim linked to the escalating cost of living.

The Committee is therefore proposing a headline claim of an increase on all pay points of RPI +2%, from 1 April 2023.

It is very important that the NJC Committee gets a view from members. 

Please reply by Friday 9 December to  with your views on the pay claim, in particular whether or not you support the proposal.

The UNISON NJC Committee will meet in January 2023 to consider the results of the branch consultation. The three unions will then meet to finalise the pay claim, for submission in January 2023.