Cafcass service managers would be the chief beneficiaries of a 19% boost to the pay bill from 2008-11 as part of a strategic pay review proposed by the family court body.
Under the reforms, all staff would receive at least a 2% pay increase each year but their salary would be enhanced significantly if they meet defined standards for their roles.
Managers would see their pay increase by between 11.1% and 14.8% in 2008-9 in a bid to make Cafcass a more competitive employer, particularly in the South East where it has had longstanding recruitment problems. London weighting for all staff in the capital would increase by 14% to £4,000 this year, rising to £4,250 in 2010-11, and car allowances – which are currently not claimed by all staff – would be incorporated into salary, making them pensionable.
Social work practitioners
Pay for family court advisors – Cafcass’s frontline social work practitioners – would increase in line with their experience with staff who are relatively new to the organisation getting as much as 16% this year. The minimum rise for FCAs would be 2.8% with many staff getting this level of increase or just above as a result of their experience.
Trade unions Napo and Unison are balloting members on the proposals. If agreed and the results submitted to Cafcass by 1 November, the pay deal will be implemented in December and backdated to April 2008. Napo has recommended the proposals to members.
Its Cafcass representative, Paul Bishop, said he was happy with the competence-based pay scheme, citing a commitment from Cafcass to support practitioners to meet standards.
Under the proposals, all roles have been divided into eight bands – following a job evaluation – and each band split into three competence-based levels – commencement, confirmation and target.
Should the deal be agreed, less experienced FCAs would start on £34,750 this year (commencement), but would see their pay increase to £37,485 (confirmation) in 2009-10 and £40,316 (target) in 2010-11 if they meet the required standards. Experienced FCAs who are at the top of the current pay banding would start on this year’s “confirmation level” of £36,750 and should rise to the target salary in 2009-10 (£39,525), before receiving a 2% increase in 2010-11 to take them to £40,316.
Managers starting on the commencement level in 2008-9 would receive £41,000, rising to £46,818 in 2010-11 if they reach their target level.
Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas said the pay review was something he had been aiming to do for three years, and it had been enabled by the 7% year-on-year grant increase the organisation has received from the government for 2008-11.
Douglas said: “The starting point was to make practitioner pay and frontline manager pay competitive. We have no difficulty recruiting practitioners in the bulk of the country but considerable difficulty in London, the South East and the South.”
He said the rises would have been difficult to justify without the introduction of competence-based pay, but said the organisation had budgeted for all staff to achieve their target level.
Private law practice at Cafcass has been slammed in three Ofsted inspection reports this year, and Douglas said competence-based pay would make a “contribution” to improving practice.
The organisation has also significantly increased spending on training, courtesy of its improved Department for Children, Schools and Families grant. Douglas added that internal practice audits had already shown evidence of improvement.
Cafcass to prioritise private law practice improvement