Hello PPMA members and friends

Colleagues will know that I have and continue to spend considerable time, with the support of others, in pushing for a new social economic model of work in our communities to help bolster human capital (wherever it may be) and to support public sector reform.

My Presidential theme of Changing the World of Work is pretty ambitious and some might say so ambitious that nothing will come of it.  But there again, we are easily reminded of what might be the impossible by the likes of Mandela who once said, the walk to freedom may be painful and may be slow but freedom is nevertheless still possible. In other words, all of us can make small inroads for change.

Local government has its role in the road to freedom and by that I mean freedom from poverty in the context of supporting people in work and reducing their dependence on the state. Now, in all my time as President I have been careful not to crow about my own council as I’ve never felt that to be the right thing to do but on this one occasion I am going to.  In the Council Chamber recently a resolution was passed.  In the words of someone far more worthy than I  “…this resolution shows real courage of the Council’s convictions and in some ways is leading the way by setting an ethical example for others to follow.”

The Resolution has one real purpose which is to simply encourage further debate nationally on the social economic distribution of pay and by so doing, start to think not just about the human contribution to work but also of the social contribution to work.

The Resolution was put forward by one of the Council’s councillors and I include his words below:-

1. PAY INCREASE
The Council RESOLVED to:

1. Acknowledge that significant numbers of constituents
across Somerset are suffering from one or more of the
following: child poverty, fuel poverty, low pay, minimum
wage and living wage.

2. Recognise that the same financial constraints will apply
in the next financial year, 2014/15 – a 1% cap on
Council tax increase and a likely 1% increase in public
employees pay.

3. Note that
(a) For an Employee earning £150,000 pa – a 1%
increase in salary equates to pay increase of £30
per week
(b) For an Employee earning £20,000 pa – a 1%
increase in salary equates to £4 a week reducing
to less than £3 a week after stoppages
(c) In the past few months energy companies have
increased prices by 10%, resulting in an extra
cost to the average user of £2:30 per week so
leaving less than 50 pence per week extra
income for employees earning less than £20,000
pa.

4. Agree that even following the autumn statement some
2,300,000 working families are living in fuel poverty
nationally, that THIS IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE
and that something can be done about it even in these
times of severe financial constraint;

5. Agree in principle a proposal that any % increase in pay
for employees for 2014/15 (estimated at 1%) is totalled
up into a lump sum and divided equally among all
employees. This would be subject to the majority of
employees and unions accepting this proposal. If
implemented in full, this would give the lowest paid
Council employees a higher increase in salary in
percentage terms. This will enable pay to increase at a
faster rate for those on the lower salary but everyone
will receive a salary increase.

6. To note that the Council’s employees are subject to
national pay negotiations and the Council is
contractually obliged to implement whatever is agreed
by the NJC.

7. Accordingly agreed to open up a discussion with the
LGA Employers side along the lines of the ‘in principle’
decision at 5 above so enabling the Council to take the
initiative and lead in trying to influence a new way of
looking at the distribution of pay and by so doing help
fight poverty in all its forms.

8. Furthermore, Council agreed that the proposal if
implemented: Would result in no extra cost to the
employer or to the rate payer.

9. Would directly benefit low paid staff and low paid
working families and help support putting an end to child
poverty.

10. Would result in benefits to the local economy giving
more people money in their pocket to spend on local
services and suppliers, which will give a small, but much
needed boost to the local economy.

11. Could potentially be applied to all sections of business,
public and private

12. Could potentially lift unemployed people out of the
benefit trap by enabling them to be financially better off
in employment.

Forgetting for a moment all the HR implications of implementing the change, I wonder if your organisation is also up for this?

With best wishes

Your President