Review raises pay cut fear

Planners face cuts of thousands of pounds to their salaries as part of a national pay review of local authority officers, it has emerged.

The measures form part of a policy to equalise pay for workers, remove gender bias and base salaries on skills such as dangerous working and dealing with the public.

But Planning has been told that cuts of up to £5,000 are being considered for planners in some authorities as part of pay restructuring.

The Local Government Employers group estimated that around 47 per cent of English councils have completed salary assessments. Most adjustments are due to start from 2010.

RTPI spokesman Chris Sheridan said he believes that planners may have inadvertently damaged their prospects for a salary upgrade.

"The job re-evaluation process looks at different types of skills and some planners have perhaps not emphasised how much they deal with people," he said. "It seems clear that council chief executives are unaware of what planners do."

In the North West, councils in Allerdale, Blackburn, Blackpool and Preston are understood to be considering pay cuts for planners. One local planner, who wished to remain anonymous, told Planning: "We have been reviewed over the past year but have not been told the targets that we are supposed to hit. It has been an incredibly stressful time."

The RTPI has heard evidence of a case in the West Midlands in which a planner had his salary cut and left his position. The job was advertised, but after a dearth of responses was then re-advertised at the original salary level. "It is just myopic," Sheridan insisted.

A Preston City Council spokesman said: "It would be wrong to discuss individual cases for planners but I would not dismiss suggestions of cuts."

Allerdale, Blackburn and Blackpool councils said pay talks are ongoing and nothing has been decided.

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