The government has been urged to provide a pay rise for the National Crime Agency this year in order to address the low satisfaction rates that could undermine its vital national security role in tackling serious and organised crime.
In its annual written evidence to the National Crime Agency Remuneration Review Body, the FDA trade union that represents senior civil servants highlighted that the NCA, which tackles serious and organised crime as a major national security threat, was near the bottom of the Whitehall league table for pay satisfaction in the 2017 Civil Service People Survey.
NCA staff, who are civil servants but due to their national security role are unable to go strike for better pay and conditions, rated the organisation as second from the bottom on staff satisfaction with the overall reward package (15% satisfied, above only the Defence Electronics and Components Agency) as well as second bottom on staff who believe pay adequately reflects performance (14%, also only better than the DECA).
The FDA said the government must act now to ensure that the vital work of the National Crime Agency is not “undermined” by its pay system.
National officer Simon Hardcastle said that highly-skilled staff at NCA work in some of the most complex crime-fighting jobs in the country but the “huge disparities” in pay means satisfaction is languishing at the bottom of the civil service league table.
“If the home secretary [Amber Rudd] really wants the NCA ‘to be relentless in the disruption of organised crime’, she must address the fundamental issues with NCA pay. Reform of the system needs to be fully funded by the Treasury, and it needs to happen this year,” he added.
The pay review body has itself called on the government to change the pay structures within the NCA, warning that the NCA "should not be constrained by an unduly rigid interpretation of the government’s public sector pay policy, which in recent years has resulted in a lack of meaningful pay progression”. It stated that pay reform was needed to “minimise the significant recruitment and retention risks to the highly marketable NCA workforce”.
The FDA contribution highlighted there is a “significant disparity” in pay between senior NCA officers and their counterparts in the police service and the wider UK intelligence community. A police superintendent, for example, earns in excess of £10,000 more than a grade 2 NCA officer, despite comparable levels of responsibility. This gap will be increased by the government’s decision to award a 2% pay rise to police officers, the union added.
Hardcastle added: “Ministers should start by funding actual pay reform at the NCA, and ending the divisive practice of paying internal promotes less than the externally advertised salary. And they should allow the NCA to properly engage their staff by offering real improvements in pay that mirror their counterparts elsewhere at a time when their expertise is needed more than ever.”
A call to reform pay has also been made by the National Crime Officers Association, which highlighted that pay and remuneration levels for officers had “barely moved for 10 years”.
NCOA general secretary Simon Boon called on the pay review body to accept that “true pay reform cannot be achieved without some flexibility on the current preferred 1% limitations”.
He added: “As a consequence, and with a strong evidence based submission we are hopeful that the NCARRB exercises its independent function as necessary.”
NCOA’s contribution to the pay review highlighted that the NCA has made proposals for reform, including modernised pay ranges to increase pay equality within grades, a targeted approach to meet the most acute recruitment and retention demands, and increased pay flexibility for some areas.
However, Boon’s submission in October stated: “Without more detailed information which we can respond to and report to members, it is simply not possible for the NCOA to provide a position which supports or rejects these proposals.”