Belfast Telegraph

Brokenshire urged to award immediate pay rise to PSNI

By Steven Alexander

The body that represents rank-and-file police officers has called on the Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire to take action and deliver a pay award to the PSNI - as there is no Stormont minister to sign off on any deal.

Yesterday, Downing Street unveiled a 1.7% hike for prison officers and improvements totalling 2% in police pay for 2017/18.

Police will receive a 1% one-off "non-consolidated" bonus on top of their basic pay rise of 1% for 2017/18.

Their settlement and the 1.7% average rise for prison officers were agreed by the Cabinet in line with the recommendations of the last two independent public sector pay review bodies to report this year.

The 2017/18 settlements will be met out of existing departmental budgets and will be implemented immediately.

But PSNI officers will not get a pay increase in their September payslips because there are no local ministers in place.

In the past, pay parity has been maintained with England and Wales, but the PFNI is warning that this can no longer be taken for granted.

The staff association says it remains in the dark about arrangements on the pay recommendation for Northern Ireland.

PFNI chairman Mark Lindsay said: "Much to our disgust and disappointment there has been no such award relating to police officer pay for Northern Ireland.

"The sole reason for this is the absence of a devolved administration, which requires consideration for any recommendations by both a Justice Minister and a Finance Minister.

"In addition, there is currently no legislative process in place in Northern Ireland to sign off any element of an award.

"The Department of Justice is in possession of the Pay Review Body recommendations relating to police pay in Northern Ireland, but a decision has been made at Permanent Secretary level not to share these recommendations prior to a minister having sight of same."

Mr Lindsay said that in the absence of an Executive, he has written to the Secretary of State "urging him to enact legislation which enables critical decisions pertinent to the effective running of Northern Ireland to be taken in the absence of local ministers".

He added: "We would also seek assurances that any increase for officers in Northern Ireland be backdated to September 1, 2017."

The seven-year public sector pay cap is to be scrapped from next year, with ministers given "flexibility" to breach the long-standing limit of 1% on rises. The end of the ceiling on public sector rises came after massive pressure from unions and Labour, and was made public shortly before Jeremy Corbyn rose to address a TUC conference in Brighton dominated by calls for an end to restraint.

Unions made clear in their initial responses that the government move fell well short of their aspirations.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady branded the increases for police and prison officers "pathetic", on a day when the latest inflation figures showed prices rising by 2.9% annually.

The government's pay restraint policy has seen a two-year freeze after the Conservative-led coalition came to power in 2010, followed by a 1% annual limit from 2013.

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