20 May 2022
Federation representatives faced a difficult decision at the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) conference when asked to vote on a motion calling for an increase to members’ subscriptions, says the chair of the Derbyshire branch.
Tony Wetton admitted delegates understood that putting up subs during the cost of living crisis and on the back of a 20 per cent real-term pay cut over the last decade was never going to be popular with members.
However, there was also the need to consider the financial security of the Federation and its ability to continue to provide critical support to members.
Tony explained: “In response to that decade of pay falling behind prices, the Federation has tried to support members by not increasing subscription levels for 10 of the past 11 years, with a £2 per month increase in 2020 being the first increase in a decade.
“The impact of 20,000 fewer officers and of the Federation reducing subscription rates for new officers to help them cope with the low starting salary, combined with inflation pushing costs up year on year, has resulted in PFEW national reserves reaching levels which cause much concern. There are currently around three months running costs in the national reserve fund.
“The Federation faces a raft of unprecedented and significant financial risks, including inflation levels which are expected to mean that costs are £1.3 million higher than budgeted.
“At conference, a delegation of Fed representatives elected by members from forces up and down the country decides on subscription levels for the whole of the membership for the following year.
“In the knowledge that many members are struggling financially, and balanced against the need to ensure that services are maintained, a proposal was put forward to increase all subscriptions rates in line with any pay increase awarded this year.
“It was explained that a two per cent pay rise would mean an increase in subscriptions of around 50 pence per month - around 38 pence with tax claimed back. That increase would offer some limited protection to the reserve fund, without dealing with the potential costs of the other issues.”
Tony said some forces’ delegates at conference were clearly given instruction by their officials which way to vote. Derbyshire’s eight delegates were asked to decide for themselves based on the subscription review paper put forward to the National Board, and the very mixed views expressed in the debate which took place in conference.
A total of 221 delegates voted for a rise in subscription costs, with 170 voting against.
The rise will be in line with the Government’s pay award for 2022/2023 which will be announced later this year and comes into effect from 1 September.