NJC Pay Scale Explained

The NJC pay scale is a system employed to establish the salaries of local government employees in the United Kingdom. NJC stands for the National Joint Council for Local Government Services, which serves as the national bargaining body representing both local government employers and unions. Annually, the NJC engages in negotiations to determine pay scales and allowances on behalf of local authorities and school support staff across the country.


The NJC pay scale establishes a standardized system for job grading and salary determination within the realm of local government in the United Kingdom. Its primary objective is to ensure uniform and equitable pay practices across the sector. The pay scale is organized using a set of Spinal Column Points (SCPs), which determine the salaries for different roles based on their assigned grade.

Key features of the NJC pay framework include:

  1. Standardized job evaluation process: Jobs undergo evaluation using the NJC Job Evaluation scheme, which assesses their relative size and complexity. This evaluation assigns each role a grade that corresponds to the appropriate SCP on the pay spine.
  2. Set pay bands and spinal column points: The SCPs serve as actual salary levels and are categorized into broader pay bands with shared terms and conditions. Most jobs fall within a pay range covering multiple SCPs within a specific band.
  3. Annual pay negotiations: The NJC engages in negotiations with employers and unions to agree on any annual pay increases applicable to the SCPs. This annual process ensures consistency in pay adjustments throughout local government.
  4. Regional pay allowances: In areas with higher living costs, regional pay allowances are applied on top of the SCP rates. This mechanism aims to account for variations in the cost of living.

The NJC pay system offers a consistent framework with the flexibility to accommodate differences in job sizes, geographical locations, and annual negotiations.

NJC Pay Bands and Spinal Column Points

The NJC pay scale consists of 10 broad pay bands, each containing a number of SCPs to provide pay ranges. The lower graded jobs fall within bands 1 and 2, while the highest grades are in bands 8, 9 and 10. Each SCP has an assigned annual salary level.

For example, an Administrative Assistant role may be graded at Scale 3 and placed on SCP 5, which in 2022-23 provides a salary of £19,698. While a Director level role graded at Scale 10 could span SCPs 43 to 45, covering salaries from £56,665 to £60,852.

The main pay bands and SCP ranges are as follows:

  • Band 1 – SCPs 1-4 (£18,333 – £19,264)
  • Band 2 – SCPs 5-6 (£19,698 – £20,043)
  • Band 3 – SCPs 7-11 (£20,444 – £22,129)
  • Band 4 – SCPs 12-17 (£22,571 – £25,481)
  • Band 5 – SCPs 18-25 (£26,317 – £30,095)
  • Band 6 – SCPs 26-31 (£31,346 – £34,728)
  • Band 7 – SCPs 32-37 (£35,336 – £38,890)
  • Band 8 – SCPs 38-43 (£39,880 – £44,624)
  • Band 9 – SCPs 43-49 (£44,624 – £50,391)
  • Band 10 – SCPs 50-55 (£51,468 – £56,670)

So the SCPs provide a granular scale of salaries within each broad band.

How the NJC Pay System Works

The NJC pay process operates as follows for local government roles:

  1. Job evaluation – The role is assessed using the NJC evaluation scheme which measures factors like responsibility, qualifications, and working conditions. This gives it a grade matched to the pay scale.
  2. Pay band assignment – The grade places the job within one of the NJC pay bands. Each band has a set of common terms and conditions.
  3. SCP range – Within the band, the role will typically have an SCP range of around 3-5 points, allowing progression.
  4. Individual SCP – The actual SCP is determined depending on experience and performance. New starters often begin at the bottom of the range.
  5. Pay negotiation – Annual NJC negotiations determine any pay rises to the SCP values, effective from April each year.
  6. Regional allowances – In eligible areas, regional cost-of-living allowances are added to the SCP value.
  7. Other pay elements – Some additional allowances may apply, like overtime, standby pay or unsocial hours rates.

So while the SCP levels provide the core pay, there are other elements that combine to determine the full remuneration for a local government role.

Annual Pay Negotiations

A key feature of the NJC system is that pay is reviewed annually based on negotiations between employers and unions. This aims to reflect cost of living changes and wider circumstances each year.

The NJC will consider factors like:

  • Cost of living increases – e.g. inflation and its impact on household budgets.
  • Recruitment and retention needs – whether pay levels are sufficient to attract and keep employees.
  • Wider economic context – e.g. public sector finance and budgets.
  • Pay trends across the economy.

The NJC then applies any agreed pay rises across all SCP points in the pay scale. This increases pay annually without the need for individual negotiations.

The 2022 NJC pay deal provided the following increases:

  • SCP 1 – 2.75%
  • SCP 2-7 – 4.04%
  • SCP 8-17 – 3.00%
  • SCP 18-43 – 2.00%

This gave higher rises to the lower SCPs to support the lowest paid. The rises apply from April 2022.

Regional Pay Allowances

On top of the standard SCP rates, regional pay allowances provide higher pay in certain high-cost areas designated by the NJC. This aims to reflect varying costs of living across the UK.

The regional pay zones and current annual allowances are:

  • Inner London – £4,027
  • Outer London – £2,570
  • Fringe Area – £833

So for example, an employee on SCP 20 (£24,982) working in Inner London would receive total pay of £29,009.

The fringe area covers parts of the South East, South West, East of England and Eastern regions adjacent to London.

Very few local authorities pay less than the NJC minimums. But some areas, such as Greater London and Surrey, have their own pay scales which improve on NJC rates.


The NJC pay system provides a coherent national framework for grading and rewarding local government roles. The standardised job evaluation and banded pay scales aim to deliver fair, transparent and consistent pay levels within and across authorities.

With its annual review cycles and regional adjustments, the system builds-in flexibility alongside national consistency. This allows the pay scale to reflect changing needs and circumstances each year.

While the framework is advisory, the vast majority of authorities follow NJC arrangements. This helps ensure public sector workers with similar roles, skills and demands receive equity in pay across the UK.

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