UNISON members back £1,925 pay rise for social workers

Union, which represents an estimated 40,000 social workers, says it will await results of GMB and Unite ballots before deciding whether to accept council offer

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Photo: md3d/Fotolia

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UNISON members have voted to back councils’ offer of a £1,925 pay rise for local authority social workers this year.

The union – which represents an estimated 40,000 social workers – announced the move on Twitter earlier today.

However, the result does not mean that UNISON has accepted the offer from representatives of English, Welsh and Northern Irish councils.

The union – the biggest in local government – said it would await the results of the ballots held by GMB and Unite before reaching a common trade union view. It is likely that, if members of one of the other two unions back the offer, it will be agreed.

In a bulletin to local authorities, the Local Government Association said UNISON members had voted 63.5% to 36.5% in favour of the offer.

Real-terms pay cut

The £1,925 is worth 5-6% on average to social workers and is the biggest offer made by employers to council staff in many years. However, with inflation running at 9.9% in August, according to the government’s preferred measure, the deal represents a real-terms pay cut for staff.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, all three unions have accepted a similar offer from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, worth £1,925 or 5%, whichever is higher, for social workers.

The pay negotiations come with social workers reporting that the cost of living crisis has taken a severe toll on their family finances, forcing several into debt or into cutting back on essentials, such as heating and lighting, and some into using food banks.


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27 Responses to UNISON members back £1,925 pay rise for social workers

  1. Maria September 28, 2022 at 9:21 am #

    It will take alot more than that to keep LA SW’s!

    • Janet Bentham September 30, 2022 at 3:33 pm #

      Will I be entitled to the back pay from April to me taking early retirement from the 23rd of August 2022? Was working for steps Doncaster social services

      • Dave D October 23, 2022 at 12:37 am #

        Yes but you will need to inform your former employer that you entitled to the backpay. Dont assume they will remember you! Plus, the increase will positively impact your pension entitlement.

        • Dave D October 23, 2022 at 12:39 am #

          You can make a claim to a tribunal up to three months less one day from your final day if your ex-employer doesn’t pay ball. Don’t miss the deadline.

  2. Adrian September 28, 2022 at 9:33 am #

    The pay offer comes with strings that will further erode our terms and conditions so it’s a one off bribe that will come back to bite.

  3. Selina September 28, 2022 at 8:28 pm #

    The rise needs to be line with inflation

  4. Vix September 28, 2022 at 9:56 pm #

    We are running at now well over a 20% pay cut over the past 12 years in real terms.

    The only way for us to be paid what we are worth is to consider striking for better conditions as well as pay.

    It’s time as social workers we look out for ourselves as well as the people we work with.

    • Anonymous October 5, 2022 at 11:16 pm #

      100% agree this is an insult we need to come together like every one else to be heard this is disgusting

    • Caroline October 21, 2022 at 6:54 pm #

      You are SO right. We need to stand up for ourselves and our profession despite how frightening that is. Its the only way

  5. Not My Real Name September 30, 2022 at 4:28 pm #

    There’s really very little point in Social Workers being in a union if they’re going to vote to accept worse wages and conditions. People don’t seem to understand that the union is its members, and if the members won’t fight for their jobs there is very little the union can do.

  6. Social worker September 30, 2022 at 4:33 pm #

    It’s a pay rise, is it though?

    This is a farce. Year on year we’ve taken on pay cuts since pay has not risen in line with inflation.

    At a time when social workers are leaving in droves and posts are empty more needs to be done. People all over the country will be struggling more and we’re going to see that reflected on our waiting lists. H

  7. Anne-Marie Marshall September 30, 2022 at 5:57 pm #

    Yes. It’s not bad enough that we are being buffeted by SWE with their seemingly ever increasing demands on practitioners. We are constantly being undervalued by employers who have offered, as you say a real terms pay cut of about 20% and demands for ever increasing caseloads and associated levels of stress and burn out!!!

    We as a group of professionals need to stand up for ourselves and say enough is enough. We need pay levels at least in line with the likes of train drivers (a group less skilled than we are). It’s even possible to take home more pay driving a bus than your average social worker – surely that can’t be right.

  8. Anne-Marie Marshall September 30, 2022 at 5:58 pm #

    Yes Selina. I 100% agree. I can’t for the life of me see why Unison have recommended this real terms pay cut as a good deal. It is so such a very bad deal and with the additional strings, colleagues are acting like stupid sheep accepting this offer.

    • Not My Real Name October 4, 2022 at 11:56 am #

      UNISON didn’t recommend the deal, they just said it was the best that could be achieved by negotiation. Once the membership voted not to strike they had no option to accept it.

  9. Shaun Monk October 3, 2022 at 12:26 pm #

    Selina and Anne- Marie. Unison didn’t recommend this as a good deal. However there is one thing sitting in Unison national office or a LG Unison branch thinking we want a better deal. Union’s strength lie in the actions its members are willing to support. Unison members (so the whole LG Unison membership) in voting to accept this deal has said it doesn’t want to take further stronger action like say the train drivers have taken. If a union doesn’t have the backing of its membership it doesn’t have a mandate to take stronger action. I know it’s a tough message but if we want better conditions then what as SW’s are we going to do create them?

    • No Name October 27, 2022 at 11:00 am #

      what about the care Navigators and practitioners that work alongside social workers ?????? that work in adult social care?? We do a lot of the work to aid social workers where’s our pay rise? We are also struggling to pay bills and put food on the table for our families

  10. David October 3, 2022 at 4:08 pm #

    Not even had this pay award confirmed and rolled out and the LA I’m at are already looking at redundancies… And there was talk of yet another pay freeze in the papers the other day?

  11. Phil Sanderson October 5, 2022 at 9:07 pm #

    In reality Unison offered no leadership as it sat on the fence rather than strongly recommending rejection of the pay cut which may have got a different result. It really is time for all the unions in the public sector to fight together. Yet another missed opportunity to fight back

    • Dave D October 23, 2022 at 12:44 am #

      Exactly. A leadership that doesn’t take a lead doesn’t inspire confidence in those who oppose or who are sceptical of the deal. It’s the tried and tested method of a spineless leadership.

  12. Jennie October 7, 2022 at 11:11 pm #

    Got knows who thinks that’s a good deal

  13. NotOnMyWatch October 10, 2022 at 10:01 pm #

    Unison doesn’t only represent social workers…. It also represents a lot of other people earning a lot less and to them, on the bottom of the NJC scales, this is a decent rise. And you have to keep in mind that for years, it’s been about the headline increases at the bottom of the scales, last year was the same with lower bands getting much higher increases.

    However, in reality this is the unions fault. They gave employers the option of a fixed amount and by saying £2000 or Inflation they established the bar. Employers were never going to offer more than £2k from that point on because they knew that was as low as the unions would go and as soon inflation hit more than 5% they were quids in. They higher you are up the scale, the bigger your pay cuts get.

    I’d love to know who these councillors on the panel are – who so single-mindedly only consider the impact rising pay will have on the public and the vital services they need, but never think far enough ahead to realise that really soon, they won’t actually have any workers to deliver those services, because they’ve treated them with such contempt and so little value for more than a decade!

    I’ve never voted to strike, ever, until now and if the option were put before me, put me on the line point me to a placard.

    • Jon-James Mcleary October 18, 2022 at 10:06 am #

      I cannot belive this we have not had the backbone to go on strike even when the lowest or no offer get some perspective and stop blaiming other

  14. Adrian October 19, 2022 at 1:30 pm #

    I have left the union. The majority of members do not fight. I voted to strike and waist of time. So i need that 14 a month to help towards my increasing debt. And when are we getting this 4% while food has increased 25% on many items! I have been left stressed and depressed while TRUSS sits laughing at us.

    • Caroline October 21, 2022 at 7:00 pm #

      I’m ashamed to say that’s for this reason I cancelled my membership a while back. Equally you and I are are two lost votes against that may make a difference. I am so angry with our profession. We advocate change yet we don’t push for it for ourselves. It’s hard not to feel utterly disolutioned!!!

  15. Mark October 20, 2022 at 9:29 am #

    So when we receive this money then

    • Rachel October 24, 2022 at 5:13 pm #

      Has it actually been accepted then?

  16. Sonia October 24, 2022 at 8:09 pm #

    This should be sorter long time ago. The cost of living is more and more difficult to cope with and Unison and others are unable to make a decision. I am tired of pay rise payed with 12 months delay like last year! This all should be sorted much sooner