But now Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, has put a figure to the minimum demand, telling LGC nothing less than a deal that keeps pace with other public sector groups would be acceptable.
“We’ll be looking at what settlements have already been agreed in the public sector, and the lowest of those was for 2.3%,” she said.
“We need a settlement at least in line with that, otherwise local government will keep on falling behind the rest of the public sector.”
Ms Wakefield said she believed pay increases of 2% and above were affordable for councils. She claimed that of a dozen authority budgets surveyed by the union, councils had budgeted for at least 2% pay rises, with some setting aside cash for 2.5% increases.
Sarah Messenger, service director at Local Government Employers, said the organisation would be unable to consider next year’s pay settlement until ACAS had issued its binding judgment on this year’s 2.45% offer - expected within the next three weeks.
She added that the funding picture would be “as challenging, if not more challenging” over the next year than it had been over the previous 12 months.
Paul Tilsley (Lib Dem), deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said that a 2.3% pay demand was “unrealistic and not affordable” and risked stoking resentment among private-sector workers anxious about losing their jobs rather than securing pay rises.