Police Federation Subscription Increase

Subscribing members of the Police Federation will find an increase in their monthly subscription from 1st January 2011. The Federation do appreciate that at a time when allowances, overtime are being cut and a pay freeze is imminent any increase in subscriptions is going to be unwelcome. This has therefore been a decision that has not been taken lightly, and was subject of a long debate at the federation's annual conference, where delegates wanted to know exactly why any increase was necessary before they voted on the issue. In the end, after the debate and the airing of views for and against, an overwhelming majority of Joint Branch Board delegates to Conference agreed that the membership subscription rate will be increased to £4.98 a week with effect from 1st January 2011. Officers should already be aware that their subscriptions to the Police Federation are tax deductable and this increase of 93 pence per week before tax relief, equates to a net rise of 56 pence per week for members paying the higher tax rate and 75 pence per week for those members subject of the basic tax rate.

Officers who were not at conference will no doubt wish to know why the increase in subscriptions was necessary. Below is a copy of an article that the deputy National Treasurer, George Gallimore wrote for the members in his home force. As it covers all the relevant points, George has agreed to let us publish his letter for the benefit of Kent colleagues. Please read it and if you still have any questions regarding the subscriptions increase after doing so, feel free to discuss these with your local representative or the Kent Federation Office.

Why an increase was needed?

The Police Federation of England and Wales provides a wide variety of services and protection to members and is funded almost exclusively by way of voluntary subscriptions. Subscriptions are normally increased annually although there was no increase in 2010 due to an anomaly that has now been corrected. Thus, the increase on 1st January 2011 will be the first rise for two years.

Our main outgoing each year is in relation to the provision of legal advice and representation for our members who are subject of criminal and/or misconduct investigations resulting from duty related incidents. Additionally legal advice and representation is also extended to members who may have been injured in the course of their duties and require support through the ill health and pension procedures, or in appropriate cases where officers have been forced to take an issue to an employment tribunal.

In 2009 the legal bill for the Federation was £13,119,449 and it is our estimate that in the future whatever the final figures are, they could include an additional amount of up to £3,000,000 from 2010 predominantly due to the change in legislation which effects Legal Aid funding.

Until very recently almost everyone within the Court system was protected by Legal Aid funding but some significant changes in respect of means testing were introduced recently which has resulted in virtually all police officers being no longer eligible for any Legal Aid funding.

This means that if you are subject of a criminal investigation you will be responsible for the legal costs and even if your innocence is proved there is no longer any guarantee that you will recover your costs.

The Police Federation believes that it is a fundamental right of our members to be properly represented in proceedings for duty related matters by the very best solicitors and barristers and last year a decision was taken that the Federation would fund all such cases which, until the legislative changes, were covered by Legal Aid.

In addition to the above, there are a number of significant challenges facing the Federation in the coming years in respect of pay and condition negotiations. It is a matter of fact that the above issues will cost significant amounts of money and this has to be found from somewhere.

The only real option was an increase in subscriptions or a reduction in services and the latter is not an option that anyone really supports.

So, why not a lesser amount?

An independent financial report into the funding of the Police Federation advised that a weekly subscription increase in excess of £1.20 per week was necessary to provide financial security and the continuation of services at current levels. The National Treasurer's department felt such a rise was not acceptable or justified at this stage as we have with the HQ team implemented savings wherever we can and will continue to do so whilst in office.

The 93 pence figure has been properly audited by the Federation's independent accountants and should continue to deliver the services we support.

A lower increase would have left us with no choice other than to further cut services and not provide the protection the Federation believe members deserve.

The only good news this year was the announcement from the Home Secretary that the new Government would, and have, honoured the final stage of our current 3 year pay award which resulted in a 2.55% increase in pay for officers with effect from 1st September 2010.

On the downside, the Home Secretary also gave a very clear steer that, any pay increase in 2011 would be minimal, if any.

How was the decision to raise subscriptions taken?

Any increase in subscriptions can only be approved at the Annual General Meeting session at the National Conference. Federation representatives of each rank from forces around the country attend Conference as delegates and it is the delegates who debate any increase and vote on the matter.

There was a lengthy debate at the AGM on 20th May 2010 and the proposed increase was subsequently approved with a large majority.

No increase in subscriptions is implemented without there being a proper process and debate involving Federation representatives from Joint Branch Boards from around the country and not simply by those at 'Head Office'

What happens to your subscriptions?

70% of your subscriptions are forwarded to the Federation centrally and used to provide the National services as outlined above.

The remaining 30% is retained by each Joint Branch Board and is used to run their local offices, pay the wages of staff employed by local branch boards ( two staff members are employed in Kent,) and also provide local representation and services which are not covered by the Federation from the national office.

So what do we get from our Federation -

The answer includes, but is not limited to, free legal advice and assistance if faced with criminal proceedings for any offence committed in connection with police duty, representation, advice at disciplinary hearings and employment tribunals, help with civil and industrial injury claims, welfare advice, assistance with grievance procedures. Advice if suffering sexual, racial or other discriminatory harassment, financial, domestic and pension's advice, debt counselling, administering CICA claims and appeals, support on medical or DHS appeals.

In addition, we in Kent, provide additional member services through our Group Insurance schemes which include:

Group & Spouse Life Assurance, Personal Accident and Income Replacement Insurance, Legal Expenses Protection Insurance, and Travel Insurance.

What we try to do for you

The Federation and its elected representatives, both at national and local level are there to support you, your colleagues and your family. Noble words indeed but you can be assured that those who represent you do our very best to do just that.

You may not be one of the many unfortunate Kent officers who, for example, in the past 12 months alone, have been supported through long term sickness and the associated spectre of half pay/no pay or ill health retirement; been represented following malicious allegations and/or unfounded criticism; supported through workplace issues; or represented by Federation solicitors and friends through discipline, employment, inquest or police pension issues. However, you probably know someone who has and you only need to use the funds once to more than cover any subscriptions you may pay over your service.

This is the real strength of our voluntary subscription system, supporting colleagues who in turn, will support you if the need arises.

There are strong indications that the Police Regulations are under threat and will be re-written with the implementation of annualised hours; consolidated payments in lieu of overtime and removing so called anomalies which currently reimburse officers for working on bank holidays.

Many in the HR world of policing would prefer us to be employees, rather than the sworn crown servants that we are!

Your Federation is a strong voice in the welfare and efficiency of the police service and the body which represents the interests of police officers from constable through to chief inspector. The detailed and often difficult negotiations are wholly targeted to ensure you are given a fair deal; legally, financially and professionally and the terms and conditions under which you joined are improved and certainly not eroded.

We certainly do not win every battle at national level but as your Federation we need to continue to be influential, determined and watchful to ensure those who would give us less time off, less pay, work longer hours and reduce sick pay are challenged at every opportunity.

We do appreciate that an increase in subscriptions is not going to be welcomed, but without such an increase the services that could be provided to members when they need them most, would be significantly reduced.

Kent JBB are an active branch board and vocal on many national issues which effect both the internal and external work of the Federation. You can be assured that we would not support any unnecessary increases in the rate of your subscriptions or indeed the profligate spending of those subscriptions.

When we became police officers we joined the best insurance scheme we may ever take out-the Police Federation. Sadly, as with all insurances these have to be costed and paid for, hence the reason for the latest subscription increase.

We hope that this has at least provided you with an explanation for the rise in your subscription rate in January.

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