UCEA Pay Settlements

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association conducts the annual inflation-based uplift to the national pay scale for Universities. It negotiates with UCU, UNISON, Unite, EIS and GMB through a committee known as JNCHES.

The mapping of posts to the national pay scale is determined by individual institutions. It is not the case that, for instance, the postdoc, or lecturer, scale is the same at all UK Universities. Some London institutions also have a London Weighting allowance. The nationally-agreed part of the payscale stops at point 51, currently around £65k. Many posts in Universities will be above this point, and are not tied to the national negotiations.

The pay scale used in Cambridge is offset by twelve points from the national scale. So, for instance, Cambridge point 40 is national point 28, and the highest point on the national scale, 51, is Cambridge point 63. This causes much confusion.

In recent years it has been common for the lower points on the national scale to receive a larger percentage uplift. This generally reduces gradually down to the general uplift amount by around £25k. Whereas the pay spine had 3% steps when it was introduced, the use of greater settlements for the lower points has led to a compression at the low end of the scale, and the steps now start at just 1.5%.

The award always takes effect from 1st August. In Cambridge it is often not actually paid until September or October, but when it is paid it is back-dated to 1st August.

(low waged)

Red highlights for figures below both CPI and RPI, green for figures above both CPI and RPI, leaving black between CPI and RPI.

The 2023 award was unusual in that part of it was paid early, with everyone receiving the larger of 2% or £1000pa backdated to 1st February, and actually paid at the end of March or April in most cases. The remainder was paid on 1st August as usual. The headline uplift for the lowest paid was 8%, but this applied to just three points on the national pay spine, points 3,4 and 5. The next set of points, 6 to 14 received 7%. As far as I can tell, the lowest point in use in Cambridge as of 1st February 2023, the time of this settlment, was national point 9 (Cambridge point 21), save for training grades.

In both 2016 and 2019 the lowest point on the scale was eliminated, creating a more substantial uplift for those previously on it. If this effect were included, the increase for the lowest point in 2016 was 5%, and in 2019 it was 5.6%.

The correlation between the settlements and the August CPI figures is weak but positive.

The table should be read in conjunction with that on the USS pension contribution rates for those categories of staff in that scheme. The rate had been 6.35% for over three decades, but between September 2011 and April 2022 it rose to 9.8%, with most of the rise happening in 2011 (6.35% to 7.5%) and 2019 (8.0% to 9.6%).

(See also UCEA's table and the Governtment's table of inflation rates)