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Prison Officers: Pay

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 164560, tabled on 8 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 2 March 2021 to Question 158908, Prison Officers: Pay, what risks involving the impact of rejecting the recommendation on (a) eliminating unlawful discrimination and (b) advancing equality of opportunity were identified in that Equality Impact Assessment.

Answered on

11 March 2021

In line with the practice of successive administrations, the Government does not routinely publish Equality Impact Assessments (EIA). The scope of the legal advice in the EIA was surrounding options that the Department was considering as part of the its decision-making regarding prison officer pay and allowances. These options were ultimately not pursued as they were not cost viable.

The EIA recognised that rejecting recommendation 3 from the PSPRB 20/21 report would adversely impact staff on Fair & Sustainable (F&S) terms and conditions, who (as per the data published on 2 March) are a more diverse staffing group than their counterparts on closed-grades terms. The Government’s consideration of recommendation 3 took this into account, alongside other factors such as the exceptional costs associated with implementing this recommendation, the impact on the overall pay structure, and the changing labour market conditions due to the exceptional economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department identified as part of the EIA that the adverse impact of rejecting recommendation 3 would be addressed by efforts to close the pay differential between staff on closed-grades terms and those on F&S terms. This remains a key component of the Department’s longer-term pay strategy.

The Government’s Public Sector pay restraint policy for the current (2021/22) financial year was announced by the Chancellor on the 25 November 2020. He detailed that pay rises in the public sector will be restrained and targeted, and that anyone earning less than £24,000 will be protected and will receive a minimum uplift of £250, or the National Living Wage (whichever is the higher) should they qualify. An equalities impact assessment was undertaken as part of the Chancellor’s decision and it did not find that the implementation of public sector pay restraint will result in any unjustified differential impact to individuals with protected characteristics. It can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2020-spending-review-public-sector-pay-policy-full-impact-assessment.

The national equivalent basic pay of Band 3 prison staff on F&S terms (our largest staffing group), as well as both F&S and closed grade Band 2 operational support grades is below the protected earnings floor of £24,000. The Department’s proposals on how the uplift should apply to prison staff will be published and submitted to the PSPRB for their consideration shortly.

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