Saturday, 17 March 2012

Local pay scales would hit Cornwall hard

The latest in a long line of leaks from Number 11 about the coming week's budget (whatever happened to purdah?) concerns a proposal for regionalised public sector pay.

The argument goes that the cost of living is different in different parts of the UK and that jobs in the private sector pay different rates - and therefore that the public sector should too.

I'll wait to see the details as and when it is proposed by the Chancellor, but I think that a system of local or regional pay will hit Cornwall hard.

First - how will it be assessed? It's all very well to point to a small range of indicators such as rent, but an assessment should be based on the true cost of living - public transport, house prices relative to wages, petrol prices, access to leisure facilities and so on.

Second - who says that the private sector pays less in Cornwall than in Kent (I'm ignoring London because it already has a 'London-weighting' boost for many wages)? The vast majority of larger private sector firms have a single rate for the job - wherever you are in the UK. Sure, there are some firms that don't, but these are not the majority. I fully accept that average pay rates in the private sector in Cornwall are lower, but that is due to the huge number of relatively poorly paid seasonal and tourism jobs and the fact that we (regrettably) have few hi-tech, highly skilled businesses based here.

Third - there will be the inevitable disparity between how we treat those at the top end of the pay scale and those lower down. I can recall that when Cornwall Council was recruiting one of their senior officers I lobbied for the rate of pay to be lowered (I think the proposal was for £140k). I was told that Cornwall needed to pay over the odds because of the difficulty of attracting the highest calibre of candidates.

There are some good arguments for Cornwall actually seeing higher pay rates if localised pay scales were introduced - but I don't think that is how Chancellor Osborne sees it.

Still, at least he has an ally in Cornwall council Leader Alec Robertson whose considered verdict on regional or local pay was:

"I tend to support anything that has the word local in it"


1 comment:

Jude Robinson said...

So will your Lib Dem MPs be voting for it?