NJC Pay Scales 2023

The National Joint Council (NJC) plays a crucial role in determining pay scales for over 1.5 million UK local government workers. This encompasses various roles, from refuse collectors and librarians to administrators. The NJC actively negotiates pay increases with unions such as Unison and the GMB on behalf of local councils. As the cost of living continues to rise swiftly, local government workers throughout the country will keep a close eye on the NJC pay scale for 2023/24.


The NJC determines the salaries for the majority of local government staff, excluding those in schools and senior positions. These pay scales consist of progression points that employees move through, resulting in increased pay with more experience. New pay scales are negotiated annually, typically taking effect from April 1st.

In the 2022/23 period, the NJC granted local government workers a £1925 increase to their minimum pay rates, marking a 10.5% boost for the lowest earners. However, with current inflation exceeding 10%, there are concerns that this year’s pay adjustment might not keep up with the rapidly rising costs.

Unions are advocating for a pay increase above inflation in 2023/24 to help workers manage escalating bills and prices. Despite this, local authorities face tight budgets due to years of austerity, making them cautious about substantial wage hikes they may struggle to afford. This article explores the pressures surrounding the upcoming NJC pay negotiations and speculates on the potential pay adjustments for local government employees in the coming year.

The Economic Context

When considering public sector pay awards, the state of the wider UK economy is crucial. With inflation hitting 11.1% in October 2022, the Bank of England has been rapidly raising interest rates to try and cool the economy. However, this is squeezing households and businesses and raising fears of a recession in 2023.

The weak economy now reduces the chance of big pay rises in the public sector. The government worries big rises will increase inflation more. Some have called for pay to be held down. But critics say public workers have already suffered years of pay freezes and limits.

The high inflation also means a big pay rise is needed just for living standards to stand still. With energy bills, food and transport costs all rising sharply, public sector unions argue their workers need protection through higher wage deals.

Pressures and Predictions

In this difficult context, the NJC will try to balance employee demands for inflation protection against local authority pleas not to place more strain on budgets. Different unions have made their pitches already.

Unison, the UK’s largest union, has demanded a £3,750 pay rise across all NJC pay points for 2023/24. This would equate to a 15% increase for the lowest paid staff. Unison argues this is justified after a decade of wage stagnation and with the soaring bills local authority workers now face.

On the other hand, the GMB union has asked for a slightly lower £3,000 flat rate pay rise across the board. This would represent around a 12.5% increase on minimum NJC pay scales. The GMB says this deal would provide help with inflation without being unaffordable for hard-pressed councils.

Many local authorities have warned they will struggle to fund big wage rises next year. With budgets already stretched thin, initial employer offers may be around 5%, similar to other 2023/24 public sector deals. However, unions are likely to condemn such low offers as insufficient given raging inflation.

Likely Pay Award

Predicting precise NJC pay scales for 2023/24 is impossible at this early stage. However, here are some possibilities based on circumstances and precedents:

  • A flat rate pay rise of between £2000-£3000 across all spinal points. This would equate to 10-15% for those on lowest salaries.
  • Differing percentage rises per pay point, with those on lower scales getting up to 12%, while higher grades receive 5%.
  • A one year pay deal rather than the usual two years, allowing fresh negotiations in 2024 when the economic outlook may have changed.
  • Acceptance of a lower pay award in return for commitments around job security from councils and other benefits.

Whatever local authority staff and councils finally agree on the NJC pay scales starting April 2023 will have major implications. The pay deal will impact the livelihoods of local authority staff and councils’ ability to deliver services. The negotiations happening over the coming months will influence if a fair deal can be struck in this challenging landscape.


The upcoming NJC pay scales negotiation for 2023 is particularly crucial for local government workers, given the current high inflation and cost of living challenges. Workers will be pushing for higher pay to safeguard against inflation, but financially strained councils might find it challenging to afford significant salary increases.

The precise percentage raises for all pay points will be determined through intense negotiations in early 2023. Despite the justified need for substantial pay adjustments due to stagnant wages, economic constraints may limit the increases from fully keeping up with inflation. Unions are already expressing expectations of double-digit raises for the lowest-paid workers.

Recognizing the difficulties both sides face, a practical NJC pay deal for 2023/24 might be achievable. This could involve phased pay increases over several years and additional benefits alongside initial raises. Local authorities will closely monitor the results of the NJC pay discussions next spring, preparing to implement the new pay scales starting in April.

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