Unions to reject Cafcass pay offer

The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service may
face industrial strife after unions lambasted a 2.5 per cent pay
offer made last week.

Although the offer has not been officially rejected, one source
said Unison and family court union Napo were “99.9 per cent likely
to recommend rejection” to members.

Cafcass was not prepared to comment on the offer, which also
includes a 3 per cent increase in London weighting, as it had not
been formally confirmed in writing as Community Care went
to press.

But it falls far short of the unions’ demands for pay parity with
Cafcass Wales, which, since coming under the Welsh assembly’s
control, has offered staff in ertain jobs much higher rates than
its English counterpart.

According to Napo, pay for family court advisers ranges from
£26,651 to £31,982 in England and £28,914 to
£37,357 in Wales, a difference of 8.5 to 17 per cent.

A pay dispute would jeopardise efforts by Cafcass chief executive
Anthony Douglas to sell a new professional strategy, due out later
this month, to staff.

This is likely to call for greater productivity from fewer staff in
return for better rewards.

Napo national vice-chair Sian Griffiths said: “Staff feel they are
being pushed from all sides. They are being offered effectively a
pay decrease and then they are being told to increase their
workload. It will be an uphill struggle for Cafcass over the next
few months.”

Douglas has already admitted that Cafcass’s pay is “very
uncompetitive” in some parts of the country.

However, Cafcass may have little or no room to offer more, being
tied to a pay remit determined by the Department for Education and
Skills, its sponsor department, and wracked by financial

Douglas has instigated a number of cost-cutting measures, including
delaying an IT upgrade and terminating agency and temporary
staffing arrangements, to stave off a potential £4m

Unison national organiser Owen Davies said: “We told them it [2.5
per cent] was a kick in the teeth for our members but they made it
clear that they wouldn’t budge.”

Napo was due to hold a meeting today (6 October) to decide a way
forward, while Unison was also working out its position this

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