Council social workers offered £1,925 pay rise

Unions to consult members on increase, which would be worth 5-6% for the average social worker, as employers warn it will hit service budgets

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Should trade unions accept councils' pay offer for 2022-23?

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  • No (36%, 407 Votes)

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Council leaders have offered social workers and other local authority staff a £1,925 pay rise for 2022-23.

Though well below unions’ pay claim and entailing a real-terms pay cut given current rates of inflation, the offer is the biggest in many years and reflects the impact of the cost of living crisis on local authorities’ ability to attract and retain staff.

However, in making the offer, employers warned that it would put service provision and jobs at risk without more government funding for councils.

The proposed rise would apply to all points on the National Joint Council for Local Government Services’ (NJC) pay spine. For an average social worker on point 30, earning £34,373 in 2021-22, this would amount to a 5.6% rise.

The proposed rise is worth more for social workers than the award of roughly 4% given to most NHS practitioners last week.

The national employers’ side – representing councils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – have also offered staff an extra day’s annual leave, with effect from April 2023, and an increase of 4.04% on all allowances, which includes the standby allowance for emergency duty team social workers. This is currently worth £30.35 per session, and would rise to £31.58 if the offer were agreed.

Pay offer ‘will hit services or jobs’

The employers had previously reported that councils were budgeting for a pay increase of about 2% – much lower than the offer, which will see staff receive rises of between 4.04% and 10.5% depending on their current pay.

Setting out their reasoning for the offer in a letter to council chief executives, employers’ secretary Naomi Cooke said “it was fair to employees, given the wider economic backdrop and is in line with awards made recently to other parts of the public sector workforce”.

However, she warned that without additional funding from government, the pay offer would “come at a cost to jobs and / or service provision”.

Despite the relative generosity of the offer, it amounts to a real-terms pay cut for social workers and most other council stuff, with inflation running at 9.4% currently and tipped by the Bank of England to exceed 11% by October.

Mixed response from unions

It is also below the claim of 11% – or £2,000 for lower-paid staff – made by the main local government unions, UNISON, Unite and GMB, who gave a mixed response to the offer.

“This offer is better than employees might have expected, given the low pay rises of recent years,” said UNISON’s head of education and local government, Mike Short.

“It shows local government employers are beginning to understand the financial nightmare school and council staff are living through. But it’s not enough to make up for a decade and more of lost wages.”

The GMB’s national secretary, Rehana Azam, said: “Whilst real terms pay cuts risk exacerbating the staffing crisis, we recognise this is an offer that warrants further scrutiny so we can assess its impact on our members. GMB will now meet with reps and members to discuss the next steps.”

‘A pay cut dressed up as a pay increase’

Unite was more critical, with its acting national officer, Clare Keogh saying:

“Council workers have already suffered over a decade of below-inflation wage rises and this is another pay cut dressed up as a pay increase.

“The cost-of-living crisis is hitting council workers hard, many already can’t afford to make ends meet, spiralling food costs and energy bills will more than swallow the pay offer being proposed.”

The unions will now consult their members on the offer.

44 Responses to Council social workers offered £1,925 pay rise

  1. Maria July 27, 2022 at 7:36 am #

    LA’s need to do much more then that to recruit & retain council SW’s! How about being treated better & not being bullied, harassed & victimised & driven out of their jobs/careers & offered more support instead!

    • Anon July 27, 2022 at 4:34 pm #

      Said perfectly

    • Anon July 27, 2022 at 7:40 pm #

      Totally agree

    • Melinda July 28, 2022 at 6:55 am #

      Same as Maria has described I can see social workers bullied and driven out of their job even though they have proved high performance. The nature of the job is stressful and there is no need for the extra pressure from some of the managers in certain London boroughs

    • Lovelie Bacani July 28, 2022 at 1:25 pm #


    • Brian July 28, 2022 at 5:59 pm #

      Staff retainment is at an all time low in my LA and is having a catastrophic impact on The Most vulnerable in our society. Continued Poor pay higher case loads with less resources available sadly a perfect storm for another Star or Alfie to succumb to the continued lack of any real investment of the most difficult profession I know of.

    • Anon July 29, 2022 at 5:00 pm #

      Exactly 100% agree.
      It’s a joke.
      Lack of empathy, not a nice work environment, bitching. It’s awful.

    • Sarah July 29, 2022 at 11:34 pm #

      The only way I seen any improvement is if they abolish agency work. My LA are losing staff who are choosing the option of agency work for more money. Not only does this make recruiting and retaining staff difficult but I have seen some really poor practice from agency workers and I question the ability of employers to take action on poor practice because if they are aware there are issues they can just go and start again elsewhere. Furthermore, agency staff tend to be shorter term so children and families and having multiple social workers and this is detrimental to relationship based social work. Maybe if social workers were valued and respected more within LA’s and if staff shortages were minimised, social workers will have a more manageable caseload and better work life balance so that they are content working in the LA.

      • frustrated July 31, 2022 at 2:51 pm #

        Sarah Don’t fall into the trap of ‘othering ‘agency workers. They do not have the benefits that permanent workers do e.g. pension. I am sure I am not the only agency worker that has had to work hours of my own time after picking up cases from permanent staff.

        I am no longer in Social Work because I joined a LA that was unable to promote relationship based Social Work which like you I believed in.

  2. John July 27, 2022 at 3:01 pm #

    Whilst I fully appreciate this isn’t near inflation, when you consider it’s not far off the min £2,000 the unions asked for, plus the extra day leave – and that this rise is for everyone – not just SW’s, I can’t be the only one thinking this seems ‘not bad’ considering the years of poor negotiations and delayed awards. The fact they also want to use this claim as a template for starting next year’s claim too seems a step in the right direction.

    Considering this will no doubt cause further pinches in budgets everywhere, and let’s face it – even with industrial action, we will never get an inflation based rise not without substantial further cuts across the board. I for one was originally expecting less than the NHS offer, and probably not much more than the 2% councils budgeted for.

    • Scarlett Maltby July 27, 2022 at 7:36 pm #

      Sorry I am not financially aware. Is this money pensionable? If I am on £25,000 now, my annual salary will not increase to £27,000 will it? My job would still be advertised at £25,000?

  3. Anne July 27, 2022 at 3:21 pm #

    This proposed pay award seems generous because we have been used to so many years of virtually nothing and that’s a shame, The shame is just the fact that we have got used to nothing or hardly anything. Still hardly get a mention on the news when they are talking about the Public Sector.

    I definitely feel that there is an element of trying to retain staff in this pay award. I don’t think we will do better but the same again next year would be nice because we are worth it and we deserve it 🙂

  4. Harry July 27, 2022 at 5:28 pm #

    I believe this is a one off payment, so council workers shall revert back to their current pay for the next pay claim as if they never had it. In which case its a very poor offer in my book as they have had zero/ 1% pay rises for years.

  5. Steve July 27, 2022 at 7:10 pm #

    Fully expecting LAs offering retention bonuses etc will now knock these on the head – so a lot, if not all of this increase will be eaten up in many places. The ‘not bad, considering’ apologists are effectively arguing for us to swallow a slightly softer pay cut than in previous years. Unions should ballot; we should all go out. Just a shame that the Unison ballot last year is a pretty clear indication no-one has the guts – and bosses know it.

    • Ian Ounsley July 28, 2022 at 10:26 am #

      That`s a good comment. I appreciate people saying we can`t afford to strike but you have to look at the long term not one or two days?

      I get 11p per mile so when i do 100 miles it costs me £20 and I get £11 back – no mention of the terrible rates. Our Directors say we are bound by Gov`t rates so why don`t they alter it. I bet they get a good mileage rate ?

      • Lou August 22, 2022 at 9:28 pm #

        You can claim the difference back from the website. They will pay the difference up to 45p a mile going back 5years

  6. Ken Talbot July 27, 2022 at 9:11 pm #

    What about the people who actually care for children and young people? i.e. foster carers – what will they receive? As self-employed people we have no rights (to negotiate) a better deal; in fact no employment rights at all

    • Cath H July 29, 2022 at 1:14 pm #

      Good point well made Ken.

  7. Harry July 27, 2022 at 9:35 pm #

    Mithran it was just what I heard from a friend, looks ok to me from your link, but i know he hasnt had a proper pay rise for years.

  8. Lakesha Naidoo July 27, 2022 at 11:08 pm #

    Guess our social worker mentality has left many of us brain washed into thinking ‘this is not a bad deal.’ I have not had a salary increase for 11 years nor moved up any payscale in my job…as a senior practitioner…28 years of frontline practice.

  9. Mufaro Mafaro July 28, 2022 at 7:02 am #

    What of the mileage.
    I have been getting 45p per mile since doesn’t make sense considering the high rise in fuel prices all these years

  10. Val July 28, 2022 at 7:35 am #

    Its a better offer than expected given the years of virtually nothing since 2010. However will it keep pace in future? Strike action is unlikely as so few people are now in a union compared to the 1980s. I was the only union member in my last workplace! We never get a mention in the press and continue to be the poor relation compared to police and teachers etc. The government need to step up and resource social care properly. Seems unlikely under current regime.

    • Adam July 29, 2022 at 12:47 pm #

      I could not have said it better, thanks

  11. Jack Sparrow July 28, 2022 at 10:34 am #

    No pleasing some people. Your lucky to get anything, even if it was £10k a year rise you would still find something to moan about. If you don’t like it then leave and get a job in the private sector, see how long you last there.

    • Jane July 28, 2022 at 2:42 pm #

      I take it you’re not a social worker?

      • Anne July 28, 2022 at 7:49 pm #

        Theres always one!

      • Neil July 30, 2022 at 9:37 am #

        May not be a social worker but the comment isn’t wrong. Weren’t we complaining about NHS staff inevitably getting a better pay award then us even before we were made one? We thrive on our supposedvpersecution and Millwall vibes.

  12. Richard Leighton July 29, 2022 at 12:58 pm #

    Pitiful offer. The RPI rate, @Jun 2022, was 13.1% and CPI 9.4%. £1925 (5.5% of my salary) is woefully below what the Unions requested, no agreement on hours reduction or additional leave. The award is, perhaps good for lower paid colleagues but what would be better is an inflation busting award with a better that a flat rate of £2500 for workers earning salaries of below £k30

  13. Laura July 29, 2022 at 1:14 pm #

    Being a Social Worker means not accepting what isn’t acceptable Jack Sparrow

  14. Alan July 29, 2022 at 1:15 pm #

    I ilke the way employers say ‘it will affect jobs or services’ .. I doubt any would think twice about this if it was their own pay rise. As services are already threadbare they might struggle to find anything to cut…

  15. Juliet Lucinda Valentine July 29, 2022 at 1:32 pm #

    Dear colleagues, I believe what we need to insist upon is transparency in offered and awarded pay rises. Ask your local councillor’s what they received to help them during the cost of living crisis. Also, mileage rates and of their many perks increases to do the job.
    I am outraged at the warning in this article of how pay rises for SW’s and other LA staff will impact upon services. This type of statement is unacceptable. Services are already negatively impacted without a pay rise. LA blame culture spouting up again.
    Where’s Robin Hood when you need him?!

    • Dan August 12, 2022 at 7:35 am #

      Why are you outraged about them telling the truth? You may not like it and it may be unfair, but without central government funding, all money for pay rises (over about 2%) will have to be cut from other budgets.

      I guess you’d be outraged if it happened and they never told you.

      Being outraged doesn’t sound like much fun.

  16. Karen July 29, 2022 at 1:59 pm #

    It’s unacceptable to say an increase in pay will mean lower resources for service users, talk about trying emotional blackmail! Today again in our authority we have someone threatening our lives- this is what we are all working with. At least if we get decent pay and councils are able to retain staff they’ll save a fortune in agency fees and the high rates if pay to agency staff, they can then direct these savings into resources- simple

    • Dan August 12, 2022 at 7:42 am #

      That’s not the thing that is simple, Karen. It’s illegal for a council to not have a budget which balances. Council staff should have much higher pay increases. Without central government funding, the increases mean other services have to be cut. It’s horribly unfair, but it is true. You wouldn’t want people just constantly telling you what you want to hear, world you?

  17. Beth July 29, 2022 at 3:05 pm #

    Local Authorities using the usual tack of making social workers feel guilty about pay!!
    Social Work is like being in an abusive relationship …
    Enough said.

  18. Honest Mutimodyo July 29, 2022 at 8:50 pm #

    II could not have said it better, thanks

  19. Frasierfanclub1 July 30, 2022 at 1:00 am #

    I believe that all public sector pay rises should be negotiated at exactly the same.percentage rate as that enjoyed by our MPs.

  20. Anne-Marie Marshall July 30, 2022 at 11:12 am #

    Well said Maria.

  21. Citizen Smith July 30, 2022 at 5:37 pm #

    Not valued ,top heavy with senior managers who micro manage staff .
    It’s more about the conditions rather than the pay ,can’t retain staff ,need to ask the question why so many are leaving or are on sick leave?

  22. David August 5, 2022 at 7:56 pm #

    When social workers get a backbone and start shouting loudly via industrial action for what we deserve, I’ll start to listen. We are a bunch of wimps and need to stand up for ourselves. You only get what you deserve when you fight for it.

  23. Dsds August 10, 2022 at 10:37 pm #

    The wages for a care worker is absolutely laughable! They are struggling to recruit because nobody wants to work weekends and bank holidays for a flat rate. The responsibility is huge and the pay is minuscule. No wonder homes are closing!

  24. KDS August 12, 2022 at 7:09 am #

    Social Workers have indeed been conditioned into accepting whatever breadcrumbs are offered to them. We are just thankful for the small pay rise, extra resources and sometimes, sadly extra hands to cover colleagues on sick leave.
    Our Case loads are high, the work relentless and never ending. There is often fractured relationships with other also overworked teams and disciplines eg. health which make demands on our time.
    You work like a Trojan to make sure everything is done before you take a few days or a weeks Annual Leave and come back to a huge tump of chaos Frequently, with a side serving of 50+ emails per day,
    We raise issues of too many complex cases to management but they fall on deaf ears!
    It is a caring profession! Often we forget to care for ourselves or struggle to make time to recharge.