Epsom and Ewell Borough Council 12th December agreed to award its staff a 6% increase to their salaries. Councillors had been advised that despite inflation moderating to some extent through 2023, there have been widespread strikes and industrial action across the public sector in response to pay deals. For 2024/25, the government has accepted the recommendations from a number of independent pay review bodies to award millions of public sector workers including police officers and teachers, pay awards in the range of 5-7%.
Additionally the Council was warned the cost of any deal is crucial, with the council already facing a budget deficit of £1.1m in 2024/25. In budget planning for the medium-term financial strategy pay has been assumed to be 3% for the next 4 years, therefore any award above 3% will increase the council’s projected deficit and result in additional, compensating service income or savings having to be identified.
Cllr Robert Leech (RA Nonsuch) said “I support the 6% pay rise. In recent years, we’ve given the staff 3%, which is less than the rate of inflation. This means that in real terms, our officers have taken a pay cut. I do not think it’s sustainable for a third year. I realize that the rate of inflation has come down, but that only partly compensates for the reductions in previous years.”
Cllr Alison Kelly (LibDem Stamford) said “I agree that we need to support the 6%. We must make sure that all our staff are feeling that they’re well-treated and they shouldn’t be looking elsewhere just to be able to live. With staff retention being such an issue for all councils, I think it’s vital that the pay is appropriate.”
Cllr Hannah Dalton (RA Stoneleigh) said “I want to use this opportunity to thank all of our officers for all that they do. They work really very, very hard for us. If Councilor Beckett was here, he would be reminding us how many officers there were when he first joined the council, and it’s significantly reduced.”
The recommendation was carried by a majority in the Council Chamber.