Welsh pay scales row checks reforms

The development of national or regional pay scales for Welsh social workers has been delayed by opposition to the plan from local government bodies.

A unified approach to pay talks was recommended in last year’s report, Social Work in Wales – A Profession to Value, which highlighted huge variations in social workers’ pay and conditions in Wales (‘Pay scales needed’ to halt Welsh crisis, 11 August). 

But the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers and the Employers’ Organisation for Local Government oppose national or regional pay bargaining.

The issue has hampered attempts by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) to agree with councils on implementing the report’s other recommendations.

A WLGA paper states: “An agreed approach has proved difficult because of the sensitivities around the pay recommendations. Further discussions and advice, particularly in the context of the national job evaluation and regrading exercises, have hampered progress.”

The WLGA is to set up a working group to look at pay separately. One issue to be considered is the feasibility of a system of regional supplements, similar to London weighting.

Tony Garthwaite, author of the Social Work in Wales report and director of social work at Bridgend Council, said: “We’re pleased the WLGA is moving the pay agenda forward without compromising the progress of other areas in the report.”

Four councils – Rhondda Cynon Taff, Denbighshire, Powys and Bridgend – have agreed to raise pay to the report’s recommended levels.

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