Evidence to the NCA Remuneration Review Body (NCARRB), 2022 to 2023 (accessible version) – GOV.UK

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Updated 10 August 2022

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) leads the UK’s fight to cut Serious and Organised Crime (SOC). The NCA protects the public by targeting and pursuing criminal groups who pose the greatest risk to the UK. SOC affects more UK citizens, more often, than any other national security threat, and is estimated to cost the UK economy at least £37 billion a year, with this cost increasing annually.
SOC is a significant and established threat that endangers the integrity, legitimacy and sovereignty of the UK and its institutions, both at home and overseas. The 2021 National Strategic Assessment concluded that the threat to the UK has highly likely increased compared with 2020.
This is increasingly being driven by advances in technology, as criminal groups are operating in a global, inter-connected way, to continue to profit and avoid detection. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the nature of the threat, though the level has remained consistent.
This demonstrates the need for a pay and benefits framework that will enable us to attract and retain the capabilities that we require in the right place, at the right time. The ambition is that our pay framework rewards capability, supports agility of talent, and aligns with our people, inclusion and culture strategies.
Data suggests that the pay gap with our comparators, particularly policing, is growing. Our 2021 people survey results on pay decreased following the pay pause. We have higher attrition in areas that we have not been able to apply reform, which demonstrates the importance of continuing to implement our strategy.
The Agency has made some progress against our pay strategy, through introducing a capability-based framework, whereby officers are rewarded as their expertise develops. This has meant an increase of 9% conversion rate of applicant to offer for specialist roles, over 200 additional powered officers at operational grades, and an average rise in pay satisfaction through our people survey results since 2017.
There continue to be challenges with comparability in relation to pay and conditions, and it is clear there is more to do to build on previous successes. We need to invest further in our capability-based framework, and keep pace with our comparators. We also need to develop our offer for our enabling professions.
We need to go further than we have previously done to achieve this. We have developed a People Plan, which identifies keys areas of delivery for 21/22 in culture, learning, recruitment, and pay and benefits. The Agency will not be able to achieve this strategy using the remuneration lever alone, and this will require an integrated transformation programme to be approved and delivered.
This submission evidences the impact of the pay pause, and the importance of continuing to apply a meaningful, affordable investment into our offer, to build a workforce for the future. It also draws out our pay challenges and the areas we are able to address this year. To deliver reform across the employment offer, we need to re-assess our long term strategy in line with our three year spending plan that is in development. We are therefore proposing to continue with previously agreed measures for this pay year, to enable us to carry out this strategic planning through 2022/23, before bringing back a multi-year proposal to the NCARRB, subject to future agreement.
The NCA acknowledges that the NCARRB’s 2021 report contained some areas of feedback for consideration. The NCA responses are covered in Chapter 3, though we have developed our proposals with these points in mind throughout.
The Agency is proposing a 3% increase in remuneration costs (IRC) this year. Our one year approach is based on a number of factors, including the timing of our business planning, which has immediately followed the settlement review, and the view that a re-assessment of our strategy will take time to complete effectively. The intent is to build on this investment through proposing a multi-year investment deal next year (subject to approval). The Agency recognises that there is no additional funding for pay this year, and has deemed 3% as affordable within our current envelope. In future years, as we seek to make additional investment in pay, we will need to secure efficiencies across the employment offer to fund further uplifts.
The Agency’s intent is to remain aligned to our pay strategy, and proposes:
A 1 year pay award, proposing a 3% IRC, to be implemented for 22/23, to be applied differentially in line with our strategy.
A three year pay and workforce transformation deal ,which is currently in the preliminary stages of discussion. This is being developed for 23/24, subject to wider agreement.
1. In order to secure the skills that the NCA requires to lead the evolving threat, it is important that our pay proposal aligns with our strategic context.
2. SOC includes child abuse, human trafficking, slavery, money laundering, fraud, cybercrime, corruption, and the smuggling of drugs and firearms into the UK. Operating across geographical and virtual borders, SOC perpetuates serious violence, and harm to the UK from across the globe. It undermines sovereignty and corrodes economies worldwide.
3. The threat has proved resilient throughout Covid-19, with offenders increasingly operating online and using emerging technologies. This includes specialist encryption to hide their communications, and cryptocurrencies to launder their profits.
4. The NCA’s mission is critical to our national security. Government defines SOC as a tier two national security threat, with cyber sitting alongside terrorism as a tier one threat. To achieve its mission, the NCA is committed to:
enhancing the intelligence picture of existing and emerging SOC threats to the UK, and using the intelligence to drive, lead and support the UK’s response to SOC;
operating proactively at the high end of high risk, undertaking significant investigations to bring offenders to justice through prosecution or, if that is not possible, to disrupt them through other means;
leading, tasking, coordinating and supporting operational activity to tackle SOC throughout law enforcement, proactively sharing intelligence, assets and capabilities with partners at local, regional, national and international levels; and
Developing and delivering specialist capabilities and services to tackle SOC.
5. Tackling SOC requires a coordinated and national response. As detailed in our Annual Plan, we are developing the Agency so it can best lead the whole system. This will be achieved through harnessing the collective powers of law enforcement, government, the voluntary sector and industry. Our officers, and the partners we work with, deliver outstanding operational results to ensure the public are protected.
6. A new NCA Director General (DG) will be appointed in 2022, charged with leading the Agency through a period of significant transformation. The DG will maintain a pivotal role in UK and international law enforcement, and will continue to be directly accountable to the Home Secretary against a number of ambitions set out in the Government’s Beating Crime Plan and Integrated Review.
7. The following operational examples demonstrate the criticality, breadth and specialist nature of operations that the NCA are responsible for:
8. We identified and arrested prolific online offender David Wilson, who was charged with 96 sexual offences committed against 51 boys aged 4 to 14. Evidence identified Wilson approaching more than 5,000 children globally. He blackmailed victims, using threats of sharing material already obtained to incite more extreme abuse, including the abuse of younger siblings and friends. In February, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. This provides is an example of the work that the NCA leads on tackling Child Sexual Abuse on a global scale.
9. Operation VENETIC led to the arrest of 1,550 people across the UK, and the seizure of 115 firearms and £54million in cash, following international partners’ successful extraction of data from an encrypted communications platform. The intention was to undermine the UK’s economy, integrity, infrastructure and institutions through criminality. The successful delivery of this work relied upon the expertise across our technical, investigate and intelligence functions, and is the broadest and deepest ever UK operation into SOC.
10. These examples demonstrate the complex nature of the work that we lead. In these areas we have specialist, operational roles that remain on the standard pay framework. Applying capability-based pay here will ensure we are rewarding officers for developing their skills where we need them, and encouraging officers to stay and grow careers within the Agency.[footnote 1] The NCA intend on bringing more roles into capability-based pay this year.
11. As the work that we do develops, and the skills that we require become more specialist, there is an increasing need to transform to secure the capabilities that we need. It is imperative that we align our pay strategy to support this, in order to stay ahead of the threat.
12. Since the introduction of pay reform in 2017, we have successfully implemented elements of our strategy, delivered through our four pay principles of: attractiveness; fairness; sustainability; and a forward-looking approach to pay. Figure 1 shows the NCA pay strategy and the progress that we have made in implementing reform.
Figure 1: NCA Pay Strategy Overview
Expanded capability based pay to 54% of operational roles.
Recruitment has seen 25% increase in applicant numbers*.
Over past 4 years 1942 officers have been recruited into agency.
Extending capability based pay to remainder of eligible roles in the agency.
Building a professions strategy for enabling functions.
Achieving alignment with comparators in our capability based pay framework.
Invest in capability based pay to 250 more roles, focusing on hard to fill areas.
Uplift spot rate values to bring us closer to our comparators.
Gender pay gap within capability based pay is below agency total, with a mean of 4.66% compared to 11%.
Targeted pay uplifts to reduce standard pay ranges by up to 19% since 2016.
We need to reduce the number of officers in operational roles on different terms and conditions.
The average pay range in the NCA is 23% compared to the Civil Service best practice of 15%.
We still have gaps with comparators across all grades on the capability framework, and at grade 6 on our standard pay framework.
Continue roll-out of capability based pay.
Targeted uplifts for the lowest earners, for example grades 3-6.
We have started to move officers from Recruitment and Retention Allowances (RRA)** to capability based pay.
Built a more sophisticated benchmarking approach to inform next year’s pay strategy.
Tying capability based pay into areas that will require it most, investing in an affordable uplift in line with the evolving economic context.
Agency needs to develop and modernise our total offer, taking into account other pay and non-pay benefits, as well as a wholescale review and how and where we work.
Building a 3 year transformation proposal to accelerate progress.
Anomaly correction in location allowances -97 additional officers receiving a South-East allowance.
Aligned RRAs to hard to fill roles.
Targeted pay awards.
Improved gender pay gap 2017 was mean of 11.6% and median of 16.2% which compared to 2020 was a mean of 11.74% and median of 11.18%
Reduce overreliance on overtime.
Contracts don’t reflect working arrangements of 24/7 agency.
Targeted investment at grade 3 to reduce overtime reliance.
Moving roles off RRA where we apply capability based pay.
Targeting awards at lower earners will reduce gender pay gap.
*Where we have applied capability based pay. **RRAs are an additional, non-consolidated payment, targeted to roles where there is clear evidence of issues with recruitment and retention as a result of pay.
13. The ambition is to achieve full coverage of capability-based pay, in line with our criteria at table 10, across operational roles. As outlined we have made some progress in achieving that, through extending capability-based pay from 48% in 2018, to 56% now. Whilst we will build on this in 22/23, there is more to do. It would cost £14.5 million to extend capability-based pay across all eligible roles, and a further £6.7 million to achieve pay parity with policing. We have limited investment to achieve this. Table 1 shows the progress that we have made against our capability-based pay ambition, the impact of the 22/23 proposal, and the residual gap across operational roles.
Table 1: Progress against capability-based pay ambition
Total operations roles: 5,003
[footnote 2]
Figure 2: Current Powers VS. Non-Powers Split
14. The NCA has a blended workforce of powered and non-powered officers. The majority of officers with powers occupy roles within our operational commands, and would be eligible for capability-based pay, however this is not absolute. We also have officers with powers in other roles, who are able to support operational activity through surge capacity activity. Almost 36% of the workforce hold operational powers, with most concentrated within our Investigations command.
15. We also aim to reduce the length of our standard pay ranges so that they are aligned with the Civil Service best practice of 15%. This would build fairness, in line with the strategy. Although we have made progress, the average length of our standard pay range is 25%. In future years, we will review our approach to professions and functional pay, as other organisations have started to implement targeted, professions-based models. Whilst this does not cover roles within the NCARRB remit, it is important to present the organisational ambition.
16. Funding our pay reform programme is a challenge, and impacts the pace of change. There are many different areas that we need to apply our budgets organisationally, including infrastructure and people, and it is a fine balance to manage total investment. We are constrained by the public sector IRC position.
17. It is therefore recognised that building a resilient workforce for the future will not be achieved through pay alone. This year we have aligned our pay plan more closely into the People Plan, which is covered in chapter 2. Our three year transformation proposal will be developed in parallel with our new People Strategy, to deliver a coherent offer.
18. The proposals at chapter 3 will enable us to make some progress in the delivery of this strategy, through continuing to extend and invest in capability-based pay, shortening our pay ranges and addressing some anomalies in South-East allowances.
19. The reform that we have implemented has had a positive impact within the Agency. Operational disruptions have increased, and we have had our most successful year to date in 2020/21. Where we have applied reform, attrition has reduced, and we have seen increased numbers of applications for roles that are on capability-based pay.
20. The NCA has a differentiated strategy due to the varied markets that we operate in; some officers have received significant pay increases since reform began in 2017, particularly where we have focussed on targeting investment in spot rate values. For example, grade 4 on spot rate 2 has received an additional £4,387 (or 11.2%).
21. In 2020, when we applied our last full pay award, officers received the largest consolidated pay increases in the recent history of the Agency. It made progress against our strategy, and included:
Targeted uplifts to pay range minimums, with 4.5% for grade 6, 4.25% for grade 5 and 2.5% for grades 1-4. This positively impacted over 3,000 officers and reduced the length of the pay ranges, in line with our strategy;
Increases to the value of spot rates, grade 5 by 4.5% and grade 4 by 3%, aligned with our ambition to build attractiveness within the market;
Introduction of capability-based pay for grades 1-3, in line with our plan to build a sustainable and coherent set of terms and conditions; and
An uplift in our location allowance, and some targeted increases to shift allowances, to make some progress in building comparability and fairness.
22. In 21/22, progress was limited due to the pay pause. 256 officers benefited from a £250 uplift if they earned less than £24,000, and an additional 94 officers received a small payment to ensure they were not leapfrogged on the pay scale as a result.
23. Our pay comparison position within the market is important because it links to our strategy on building an attractive and fair offer which enables us to secure the skills we need. It is recognised that pay is one part of the package, along with the wider people offer, which is outlined in chapter 2.
24. Our comparators include policing, the UK Intelligence Community and the Civil Service. Our largest gap in pay is with policing. The NCA has generally looked to policing as our key comparator, given the similarity in the types of skills that are required in our operational roles. We do recognise that some of our roles are not operating in the same environment as policing. For example, the NCA are a proactive, rather than reactive, organisation, and we operate on different contractual terms and working patterns.
25. Across operational roles, in particular at grades 4 and 5, capability-based pay has gone some way to improve our comparability with policing, though the gap remains, particularly at grade 5. This is drawn out in more detail in tables 2 and 3.
Table 2: Comparison of pay points between NCA Grade 5 and Constable Pay.
*Pay freeze applied for the 2021 pay uplift, except where officers earnt less than £24k, who received a £250 uplift.
26. Table 4 shows there is still a way to go to achieve comparability across all grades when comparing the NCA median with the policing equivalent. The difference is exacerbated by the police receiving yearly progression through increments.
Table 4: Comparison of Median pay in the NCA Operational commands and Police forces.
*NCA data is based upon median pay in operational commands.
27. The Agency focussed on rolling our spot rates to grades 1-2 and 4-5 in previous years, to make progress against our ambition to align more closely with policing pay. We decided not to focus extending capability-based pay to large numbers of grade 3 officers. For a proportion of our grade 3 officers who are high overtime earners, it wouldn’t have been financially viable to change their terms and conditions, as they would lose the potential for overtime. This is why the NCA offered a choice to opt-in. However, moving onto capability-based pay provides more stability and permanency in earnings, and our data shows that it supports wellbeing and lower sickness levels.
28. In line with our strategy, we aim to extend capability-based pay across all eligible operational roles. Grade 3 is an important part of building a sustainable and resilient offer. Investing in the capability-based pay framework at grade 3 will enable us to do this, to incentivise officers to develop their expertise within the NCA.
29. The comparison between median NCA pay in Enabling Functions and the Civil Service is outlined at table 5.
Table 5: Comparison of Median pay in the NCA and Civil Service.
*NCA data is based upon median pay in operational commands.
30. Across the standard pay ranges, we have been able to apply some meaningful increases, with pay range minimums increasing by up to £3,933. This has allowed us to remain competitive in our enabling capabilities roles, when compared to our Civil Service comparators. However, we are now lagging behind at grade 6, where the NCA median is £21,050 compared with a Civil Service median of £21,325, and we still have comparably longer pay scales than other Government departments. The NCA is proposing a higher uplift at grade 6 as a result of this.
31. Whilst we have made progress, we still have a way to go to fully implement our strategy. Subject to future agreement, the following are key areas of focus for our future three year proposal:
Bringing more roles into capability-based pay;
Addressing parity across the pay ranges, reducing the length of our pay ranges and ensuring we are able to compete within key markets;
Moving officers away from RRAs and on to a capability-based pay, in order to build sustainability in the model;
Reviewing working arrangements, including the 40 hour week, and considering where we may need more teams on shift arrangements, in line with our role as a 24/7 law enforcement organisation.
32. Whilst we recognise it is not within the remit of the NCARRB, we will review our approach to professions pay, primarily in enabling functions, which forms a part of our total pay-bill. Early benchmarking suggests that the gap with comparators will widen, and increasing attrition across enabling functions is evidence of this problem.
33. To afford this activity, and as we are constrained by the public sector IRC, we will need to seek contractual savings to re-invest spend back into pay. This will include reviewing our approach to overtime, which is currently relied upon to furnish operational demand. This creates sustainability and wellbeing issues, and challenges with diversity and inclusion, as overtime only benefits officers who are able to routinely complete additional unplanned work. This is a key link with our inclusion strategy, whereby we aim to break barriers and create fairness across our practices for all.
34. To support this work, we are developing a revised benchmarking matrix. It is recognised that this comparison cannot focus on pay alone, and we will be conducting a comparison of wider contractual conditions. This work will form the basis of our 23/24 NCARRB submission.
35. We are operating in an increasingly volatile fiscal context. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK economy has faced its toughest climate in 10 years. However, achievements with the vaccine programme, plans for additional jobs, and additional support provided to families and businesses, has supported the economy. The strength of this recovery means the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) is expecting the pandemic to have had a smaller long-term effect on the economy than previously anticipated.
36. However, there has still been a notable economic impact worldwide, inflation has risen rapidly, with demand for goods outstripping supply, which is leading to higher prices for consumers. The OBR have noted that ongoing global supply chain issues, energy price rises and labour market shortages are likely to continue to affect households and businesses in the UK.
37. External pay award benchmarking covering the UK economy, showed that during the first half of 2021, pay awards of circa 1.6% were being implemented by employers, with the median pay award being 1.2% in the first three months of the year. This rose to 2% during the second quarter. Employers are expecting to offer pay awards of up to 2.5% when averaged across 2021. However, the Bank of England also predicts these spikes to re-adjust in the medium term. They have suggested that wage and price setting need to be balanced carefully, so as not to put even further pressure on the economy as inflation settles.
38. The NCA recognise the need to balance pay awards, as the economic evidence does state that if pay increases were to exacerbate temporary inflation pressures, this may drive wage demand further across the economy, and lead to increased pressures.
39. In balancing the above, we are proposing a meaningful uplift, by applying a 3% IRC this year, balanced with other Agency priorities.
40. Progress against our pay reform ambition must be affordable within the funding provision. The Agency has to balance investment through all areas that will achieve operational delivery, along with providing a fair and transparent offer for our workforce.
41. The composition of our pay-bill for directly employed officers is set out in table 6. There are other areas that the Agency needs to budget for as part of our total pay-bill that do not come under the NCARRB remit. This includes performance bonuses, overtime and contingent labour costs.
Table 6: NCA Total Pay-bill (for directly employed officers)
(The Agency also utilises a non-consolidated pot which is 1% of the wage bill, this currently stands at £2.22m)
42. The 3% IRC that we are proposing is affordable within our budget without having detrimental impacts elsewhere. The NCA Board have prioritised pay as an investment priority, alongside other critical areas, in light of the external context, the impact of the pay pause, and the need to be able to keep pace with comparators. As part of the case for 3% IRC this year, we anticipate some reductions in spending elsewhere including overtime and time off in lieu (TOIL) , as our pay increases drive efficiencies. For an award above 3% IRC, the Agency Board would need to make choices to reallocate funding which would impact operational delivery elsewhere.
43. The Agency is planning on making some efficiencies this year through reducing some overtime and travel spend, though to secure the future investment required in pay, further savings within our contractual provision will be required.
44. This chapter has shown the alignment between our pay strategy and the organisational context. Our ability to implement the strategy, delivered through our four pillars, is crucial to achieve continued operational success, in a sustainable manner. We have outlined that, whilst we have made progress, there is more to do to realise the full ambition.
45. To deliver this we need to continue extending capability-based pay, reduce the length of the pay ranges, and invest in pay uplifts to ensure we are building an attractive offer. In the future we will review our approach to allowances, working hours, overtime and shift patterns to further align the model that we need to deliver operationally.
46. The 22/23 proposal, detailed at chapter 3, seeks to further the progress against our strategy by applying a 3% IRC as a one year approach.
47. As we plan for the future, we recognise there is a need to accelerate transformation to achieve our pay principles. We are devising a three year proposal which, subject to approval, would allow us to implement our full ambition.
48. The NCA has a workforce of 6,032 as at 31 August 2021, and in the last four years the Agency has grown by 1,942 officers.
49. Permanently employed staff make up 90% of our total headcount. Over the last four years we have increased representation of officers throughout all protected characteristics. We continue to review our people data quarterly with the NCA Board.
50. The workforce composition across the grades is proportionately weighted towards grades 4 and 5. This reflects the operational nature of the Agency, with these being the core grades where we bring in, develop and deploy operational capabilities. The current grading composition at grades 1-6 is below in graph 1.
Graph 1: Current Workforce Composition
51. The operational success of the Agency depends on the expertise of the whole workforce. We must attract, develop and retain the skills that we require across our many different professions. As part of the 20-21 Annual Plan, the Home Secretary tasked the NCA to continue to target its efforts on reducing the number of victims of exploitation, reducing the impact of SOC on our communities and reducing harm from economic crime. These complex priorities set out the need for an integrated workforce strategy. Our major responsibilities and skills requirements are set out in table 7.
Table 7: Command responsibilities
Responsible for planning and driving the most effective and impactful whole system response to the SOC threats. They drive and plan the effective delivery of our response with partners at senior level in law enforcement, Government, private and third sectors.
Requires specialist knowledge to develop the strategic approach, and capabilities to drive a 4 ‘P’ response (Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prevent).
Develops technical and specialist skills to support critical work in fraud, asset denial, money laundering, bribery and corruption.
23% of roles within the command have powers.
Accountable for developing and delivering the intelligence in response to support the 4 ‘P’ planning developed by Threat Leadership.
Requires technical skills to develop information to support high-end operations and disruptions. Working with partners both nationally and internationally.
27% of roles within the command have powers.
Accountable for executing the intelligence and disrupting the highest harm crime including, but not limited to, organised immigration crime, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, economic crime, firearms, drugs, kidnap, extortion and money laundering.
65% of roles within the command have powers.
Accountable for the development and delivery of capabilities to support the operational services across the NCA. Also accountable for the effective running of the organisation to ensure it is effective, safe and legally compliant.
Requires professional, strategic capabilities across strategy, finance, commercial, data & technology and HR.
8% of roles within the command have powers.
52. Inter-operability across all areas is important for driving a holistic approach. The NCA encourages developmental moves, and we are building pathways to support this through our talent framework. In 2021, the Agency ran a lateral movement campaign which resulted in 116 workforce moves, mainly moving officers from Intelligence roles into Investigations roles.
53. This helped us to deploy resource where it is needed. We have redesigned the way we run lateral campaigns, to move away from an annual event, and aligning it more to surging capacity to meet the operational needs. This has helped to build agility, and more officers have benefited from developmental career opportunities. However, we need to ensure we embed a coherent employment offer, and approach to pay, to support this.
54. In 2021, the Agency introduced a People Plan, to consolidate our position, set efficiencies and to bring people on to fill critical capability gaps. An overview of our annual People Plan and progress against it can be found at table 8.
Table 8: NCA People Plan and progress made in 2021
55. Whilst we have made positive progress, there is more to do realise our strategic ambition. This includes remaining competitive, attracting new entrants and reducing the time it takes to onboard new starters at the beginning of the employment journey. We also need to ensure officers can access the training they need, and to drive inclusion and an open, transparent culture.
56. The Agency’s attrition rate is 8.9% as at 30 August 2021. Whilst this is lower than the UK average of 15%; the data shows that, where we have invested in pay reform previously, attrition, and vacancy gaps, are lower.
57. Whilst we have increased recruiting activity over recent years, we are forecasting to end this financial year with 800 vacancies, of which 186 are classed as ‘hard-to-fill’. A list of ‘hard-to-fill’ roles is included at Annex C, which includes priority operational areas for inclusion in pay reform.
58. Many of the operational roles that are designated as ‘hard to fill’ remain out of scope for capability-based pay, such as forensics and social workers. The vacancy gaps in these areas are 34% and 30% respectively, compared with the NCA average of 21%.
59. The challenge is more acute where these roles are also located in the South-East, as we require specific capabilities to tackle the threat in this area. Whilst we are tailoring future recruitment to target these roles, it is important that we continue to apply capability-based pay, and address anomalies in location allowances in the South-East, as our data suggests that applying reform is having a positive impact.
60. The most prevalent reason for leaving the Agency in operational areas is retirement, which means that we lose experienced officers with important skills. To build the future pipeline, we have increased our recruiting activity, though this means we have more officers who are still early in their career. It is important to continue investing in capability-based pay so that we provide an incentive for those early in their careers to develop their expertise in the NCA.
61. The 2021 NCA People Survey results reported in December 2021. The survey was completed by 59% of the workforce. The People Survey headlines can be found at table 9.
Table 9 – NCA People Survey Overview 2021
62. The results are approximately 2-3 percentage points down in comparison to 2020. The overall engagement score of 62% is a reduction of 3 percentage points, though this result is still a 12% improvement on 2018. External factors, such as the impact and disruption from the pandemic, are likely to have had an impact on the outcome. Additionally, some developmental opportunities have been withdrawn due to not being able to run throughout the pandemic. The pay pause will have impacted the results too, as we had our most successful year for disruptions, and officers feel they have not been rewarded when they increased delivery and performance.
63. The Agency continues to score strongly on officers feeling aligned to our organisational purpose. Officers report that they have a clear understanding of our objectives and goals, and that they understand how their work contributes to our mission. This is representative of our strong ethos and values-driven mission.
64. Officers are satisfied with the level of support received from managers and team members, and that they are encouraged to come up with new and innovative ideas. This is an encouraging indication of the strong sense of collaboration across the Agency.
65. We recognise that there is more to do on leadership and managing change, which has reduced by 3% to 45% positive. Our leadership team has remained visible throughout the pandemic, and there has also been regular communication and engagement with staff through virtual means, with an emphasis on transparency and resilience. The senior leadership team is conducting more on-site and virtual visits to hear directly from officers across the Agency. In December 2021, the Agency ran a series of all-staff virtual events, to bring the organisation together, to listen to the challenges faced and celebrate success. Leaders discussed the new opportunities and challenges 2022 will bring. These were supported by all employee blogs, where officers could directly contribute to the conversation.
66. Satisfaction with pay and benefits has reduced by 5% in 2021. The change is in part attributed to the 2020-21 government pay pause that was applicable to most of the workforce. The yearly trends continue to show we are operating at a low base. This enforces the need for a modernised pay and benefits offer that the workforce feels is appropriate in line with their roles and that offers progression.
67. The NCA has continued to take a leading role in protecting the public throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We achieved our highest level of disruptions during this time. The operating context remains a challenge, and the ways of working differs greatly across the Agency. We operate across all four nations, with different rules applied at different times. Whilst some officers could work from home, we continued to require an office presence for sensitive work, and our officers still needed to deploy operationally.
68. Alongside continuing to prioritise the safety of our officers, we developed and mobilised new working practices quickly, such as, moving learning on line where possible and investing in technology roll-out in order to support increased remote working. We continued to recruit where we could carry out assessments effectively remotely, though for some critical roles, face to face assessment is required and explains some of our vacancy gaps, as campaigns were extended.
69. In June 2021, the Agency introduced a hybrid working pilot, in line with government easing of restrictions. The pilot will help us test new working practices that could be adopted as we emerge from the pandemic. Early evaluation data suggests that the hybrid working pilot has had a positive impact on wellbeing, engagement and performance. There are areas which will need more time to analyse the sustained impact.
70. The Agency continues to evaluate the impact of more flexible working practices, should recommendations for changes emerge that impact remuneration, they will be proposed in line with the three year future strategy.
71. Demand for skills in law enforcement is high, and availability is low, particularly across ‘hard to fill’ and specialist roles. The outcomes from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) workforce review mirrors the challenges we face in attraction and recruitment. We are competing for skills across several labour markets. Existing application of our capability-based pay framework, along with our reforms, have helped with the challenges of recruiting the skills we need. We have continued to encounter increased volumes of applications for posts in capability-based pay, and conversion rates from application to hire are increasing.
72. Whilst we have plans to address the skills needed within the Agency to undertake specialist roles, we have more to do to seek efficiencies into our resourcing and onboarding processes. Commands are reviewing the current vacancy levels and assessing the pipeline to ensure the skills are being posted to the areas we have prioritised. The outcome of this work will tie into our next recruitment campaign, due to be launched in January 2022.
73. Momentum in our pay strategy has enabled more agility with our workforce in 2021. This included moving people laterally to fill specialist roles, linking learning outcomes to reward, and bolstering our leadership and management capability. We have also started working with commands to roll out apprenticeship opportunities, focusing on hard to fill roles and reinforcing profession pathways for existing officers. Ensuring that this forward focused approach aligns directly to remuneration will form part of the future pay strategy.
74. To conclude, the Agency has been continuing to develop our workforce through the 21/22 People Plan. This precedes the development of our full three year People and Pay Strategies which aims to form the basis of the NCARRB submission for 23/24. The proposal to implement a one year pay award for 22/23, is to enable us to continue making progress in pay reform, whilst developing the future approach.
75. Whilst the government did not ask for recommendations in 2021/22 due to the pay pause, their 7th NCARRB report included feedback that we have been asked to consider. Table 10 addresses the key feedback. It is important to note that there are some issues that will be addressed more fully through the three year pay deal that we are planning to submit next year:
Table 10: NCARRB feedback and NCA Response
76. The NCA board have approved a 3% pay award for 2022/23, applied as follows:
A) Extending capability-based pay, delivered through spot sates
B) Investing in capability-Based pay, through spot rate uplifts
C) Applying increases to the standard pay ranges
D) Applying anomaly correction to South-East Weighting arrangements
77. The Agency will apply these uplifts through our differentiated approach, rather than applying a blanket award. This is a key enabler of our strategy. The NCA provide many specialist capabilities on behalf of law enforcement, intelligence and Civil Service partners. We require a unique, blended skills mix from different professions which we source from varied markets.
A)Expanding the coverage of Capability-based pay
78. Extending capability-based pay is a key component of our pay strategy. Since the introduction of capability-based pay, it has been a priority to bring more operational roles into scope of the framework. The NCA has focused on areas with the most pressing recruitment and retention issues first, utilising a data-led approach.
79. We have set out below the direction that we are heading in extending capability-based pay further this year. However, the NCA expects to continue to own our skills framework, whereby we determine the coverage of capability-based pay in line with operational need. This is overseen through the internal NCA governance framework.
80. In order to identify the priority roles in scope we propose a series of criteria to be utilised, in order to complete our prioritisation exercise. The Agency will apply the criteria set out to determine the roles that will be prioritised for investment. This aligns with the work that we have completed on identifying hard to fill roles, through the vacancy gap and attrition data that is outlined in chapter 2. The operational examples outlined in chapter 1 present the unique and complex skills mix that we require, and these types of direct operational requirements will be considered as we implement uplifts. A high-level overview of the criteria and its application is set out in table 11.
Table 11: Criteria for extending capability-based pay.
81. To support our assessment, the Agency conducts an equality impact assessment on the proposed entry list, along with forecasting the impact of implementation of the changes on the agency ambition.
82. This framework helps the NCA to prioritise roles for inclusion, allowing us to direct capability-based pay coverage where it will have the most impact. We have allocated £1.33m to increase the number of roles in scope of capability-based pay this year.
B)Investing in capability-based pay (through spot rates)
83. In line with our strategy to build an attractive offer, the Agency is proposing to apply a differentiated investment into to our capability-based pay framework in 22/23. We are targeting increases at grades 3 and 5, with a focus on grade 3 to increase the attractiveness of the offer as well as align with policing comparators, and grade 5 as data suggests this is the area of highest attrition. The proposal will apply an average investment of 3.18% in the capability-based pay framework.
84. This will move us forwards in our strategy of building attractiveness and sustainability through reducing the gap with comparators. Based on the policing submission for this year, it is predicted that the gap at grade 4 and 5 will reduce by some margin, however there is more to do to close the gap in future years. Our proposal, along with how this compares to the estimated police award for this year, is outlined at table 12.
Table 12: Proposed values for 22-23 (Capability-based pay framework)
*3.5% estimated pay award with pay point 3 of Chief Superintendent raised by £5,674, in line with NPCC endorsed working party recommendations from 2021. This represents year one of a three year plan, the overall investment is predicted to be 2.7% over three years.
C)Standard Pay Range Uplifts
85. The Agency is proposing to apply a differentiated award to the standard pay range, to target investment in line with our strategy. We will offer higher increases to the lower grades, for example at grade 6, as we have fallen behind the Civil Service median pay. This is aligned with our strategy to build the fairness of our offer, through targeting the lower earners in the organisation. This is forecasted to have a positive impact on reducing the gender pay gap. This proposal will move our grade 6 pay £1,439 ahead of the Civil Service median. We will further review the plan for grade 6 as part of our future strategy.
86. Although the other grades remain slightly ahead of Civil Service comparators, NCA officers did not have any pay uplift in 2022/21, and cost of living has risen. In our enabling functions, we have also seen attrition increase, particularly where we have not been able to implement pay reform. Further attrition data is contained in Annex A, point 6. We are therefore applying awards across all grades in our standard ranges. By applying a 1% increase at the grade maximum, and the remainder as a non-consolidated award, we will continue our strategic priority to reduce the length of the pay ranges.
87. The proposal and impact is outlined at table 13. This will provide an average uplift across the standard pay ranges of 2.43%, and will reduce the average pay length gap to 23%.
Table 13: Proposed standard pay range uplifts for 2022-23
D)South-East Weighting Allowance
88. The NCA supports the Governments levelling up agenda, and we already have sites across the country. However, we continue to have increased operational demand in the South-East. Many of our ‘hard to fill’ roles are situated in this geographical area, and we continue to face acute recruitment pressures here.
89. The ambition for all allowances will be reviewed as part of our future strategy, as we also consider the impact of our estates programme, and the hybrid working pilot.
90. Proposed changes for 22/23 are aimed at addressing anomalies within our current allocation, through opting officers in our Chelmsford and Stevenage branches into the South-East allowance at £2,739, which is 80% of the current rate. This would go some way to addressing anomalies, whilst giving us the scope to develop our future strategy. This would also keep NCA pay from lagging further behind comparators in this area. This would cost £210k and would bring 97 officers in to scope. The detail of the proposal was submitted in our last evidence submission.
91. The 22/23 submission continues to execute the current pay strategy through applying the 3% IRC in line with our strategy principles of attractiveness, fairness, sustainability and looking forwards. This is the uplift that is affordable alongside the choices that the NCA need to make across the spending period.
92. To fund additional investment in subsequent years, we will need to make additional cost savings through seeking contractual reform that we will direct back into pay. This will include reviewing our approach to overtime, shift arrangements and wider contractual terms.
93. The Agency forecast that this proposal will have a positive impact on diversity outcomes, including a reduction of the gender pay gap through reducing the length of the pay ranges and applying targeted uplifts to the lowest earners.
94. The NCA has made significant choices regarding the allocation of our spending across our total strategy, and therefore we are able to allocate a 3% IRC this year. As part of the case for 3% IRC, we anticipate some reductions in spending elsewhere such as overtime and TOIL. As noted in chapter 1, for an award above 3% IRC, the Agency Board would need to make choices to reallocate funding from elsewhere. Further, future investment into the NCA pay progress is required. We have set out the plan to submit a 3 year pay proposal for agreement next year, in order to support this.
95. The associated costings of our proposals are broken in table 14:
Table 14: Pay award breakdown.
Annex A – Supporting Data
Annex B – How pay works in the NCA
Annex C – NCA hard to fill roles
Chapter Contents
1) The NCA Workforce
Current Spot Rates and Standard Pay Ranges
NCA Workforce – Powers
2) Workforce Diversity
a. Commands
b. NCA Grades
c. Spot Rate Eligibility
d. Terms & Conditions
3) Initial Operational Training Programme (IOTP)
4) NCA Recruitment Activity
a. Pipeline Data
b. Operational Pipeline
c. Internal Transfers
5) Productivity Statistics
a. Increase in hours
b. Wellbeing and sickness
6) Leavers – Attrition Rates
7) Leavers – Exit Questionnaire
8) Other Pay Elements
a. Overtime
b. Time off in lieu (TOIL)
c. Contingent Labour
9) Salary Analysis
a. Spot Rate Framework
b. Standard Pay Range
At 31 August 2021, the Agency had a workforce of 6,032, comprising a mix of directly employed officers, seconded officers, fixed term employees and contingent labour. Their collective skills and diversity of experience are crucial to our operational success.
Table 1: Workforce Employment
Workforce Employment Status
Table 2: Workforce by Grade
Table 3: Workforce by Command
The majority of the workforce sits within the operational functions of Intelligence and Investigations, with Grades 4 & 5 having the highest number of officers.
Table 4: Current spot rate values
Table 5: Current standard pay range values
Table 6 provides an overview of Powered VS. Non-powered officers. Most powered officers are in operational commands, though there are some powered officers in enabling capabilities that are able to support operations where surge capacity is required.
Table 6: Workforce by command – powers split
*Officers funded by NCA Margin are either in process of being redeployed or whose costs cannot be attributed to a command budgetary line. The most common scenario is when Officers are transitioning into or out of an International Liaison Officer (ILO) role i.e. the Officer is an ILO in training or has returned to the UK following an overseas deployment and needs a temporary post while their full time post is determined.
The below data shows that the majority of our powered roles are officers graded 4 and 5, which are more frontline facing roles.
Table 7: Workforce by Grade – powers split
~ denotes 10 or less, including values redacted to safeguard the identity of our Officers.
Table 8: Workforce by working pattern
Table 9: Workforce by gender
A diverse workforce enables a culture where different perspectives and knowledge are embraced to innovatively combat newly emerging criminal threats.
Diversity is improving, and the Agency continue to embrace initiatives such as the IOTP programme to create opportunities for increased representation. This is being furthered through our Inclusion and Culture strategy.
Table 10: Workforce by age
Table 11: Workforce by gender
Table 12: workforce by ethnicity
Table 13: workforce by religion
Table 14: workforce by disability
Table 15: workforce by sexual orientation
Table 16 shows that proportionately, less officers work part time hours in operational commands than they do in enabling functions. This data also shows that female representation is higher within our enabling functions teams.
Table 16: Workforce by command – work pattern split
Table 17: Workforce by command – Gender split
The data shows that our lower grades tend to have a higher ratio of part time workers.
Table 18: workforce by command – work pattern split
Table 19: workforce by grade – gender split
Table 19 shows that there is a higher proportion of females than males at Grade 6 and 5. From Grade 4 the difference shows a higher ratio of males to females, with males more than twice as likely to be in a senior role at grade 1.
Upon the introduction of spot rates, officers were able to voluntarily opt into the framework. This means a proportion of our work force (8.56%) are in Spot Rate posts, whilst remaining on the standard pay framework. These officers are eligible to opt into Spot Rate pay at any time.
The following data tables detail officers eligible to opt in to Spot Rate as of August 2021.
Table 20: Spot rate eligibility by gender
The highest percentage of officers eligible to opt into spot rates are in the higher age brackets, 4.3% of 50-59 year olds and 2.26% of 40-49 year olds.
Table 21: Spot rate eligibility by age
Table 22: spot rate eligibility by religion
When looking at the ethnicity of the population, we can see that officers who identify as White are the highest percentage of officers eligible to opt into Spot Rate (6.05%).
Table 23: Spot rate eligibility by ethnicity
Table 24: Spot rate eligibility by disability
Table 25: Spot rate eligibility by sexual orientation
The majority of the workforce remains on the Standard Pay Range. 39% of our workforce are on spot rates, with other T&C’s covering 0.22% of our organisation. This is an improvement on last year where spot rates covered 28% of our workforce.
The data suggests that those on the standard pay range, who tend to have been with the Agency for a while, may be on a higher salary range, therefore the spot rate structure would not be beneficial to them overall.
Table 26: T&C’s by gender
Table 27: T&C’s by working pattern
Table 28: T&C’s by working hours
Officers on the spot rate pay structure tend to be evenly split between powers and non-powers.
Table 29: T&C’s by powers
Table 30: T&C’s by age
Table 31: T&C’s by ethnicity
Table 32: T&C’s by disability
Table 33: T&C’s by sexuality
*Data is based on NCA employees on NCA Terms & Conditions.
The NCA IOTP is a 24 month blended training programme which accredits officers as either an Intelligence Officer or Investigations Officer.
The cohort data below shows the number of officers undertaking the programme since last year’s report. The turnover for this group is low. The diversity of these groups is represented in the IOTP diversity statistics shown on the following pages.
Table 34: IOTP Cohorts
During 2021 the NCA has continued to build on the accelerated pace of 2020, though there has been an impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on recruitment. Table 35 shows the changes in recruitment activity from 2019-2021.
Table 35: Number of candidates added to NCA pipeline
When looking at the recruitment of operational roles we can see the challenges the Agency faces. These roles are categorised by the following headings:
Firearms – These are Specialist roles within our Armed Operations Unit (AOU), these roles can receive the ‘Expert’ Spot Rate salary.
Intelligence Officer/Analyst – These are campaigns which fill vacancies across the NCA’s Intelligence command, as either an Intelligence Officer or within an Analyst team.
Specialist Intelligence – Our specialist Intelligence teams include Forensic roles (physical or digital), Technical Operations and Human Intelligence (HUMINT).
Investigations Officer – These are frontline roles investigating Serious and Organised Crime, which includes the arresting and interviewing of suspects.
Specialist Investigations – Our Specialist Investigation teams include Social Workers, Financial Investigators and surveillance.
Our Intelligent Officer/Analyst and Investigations Officer campaigns have improved considerably, however specialist recruitment has become more challenging.
Table 36: Job offers by campaign.
Following the successes in 2020 we are now expanding growth in specialist areas which matches with our goals of expanding the spot rate framework into these role types.
Table 37: Conditional offers by applicant and offers
Over the past year, 29 staff moved from Investigations to Intelligence, and 23 moved from Intelligence to Investigations. These are movements taking place outside of the lateral campaign, so will include promotions and other recruitment activities.
Table 38: Internal transfers for Intelligence
Leavers Command: Intelligence
Receiving Command: Investigations
Table 39: Internal transfers for Intelligence
Leavers Command: Investigations
Receiving Command: Intelligence
As the spot rate framework has developed, the number of officers working 40 hours per week has increased annually. As of August 2021 we have 2198 officers on the spot rate framework, the increase in hours presents a productivity gain for the Agency.
The increase in officers on spot rate represents an increase in 219.80 FTE for a 37 hour week, or 164.85 for a 40 hour week.
Table 40: productivity statistics by grade
The spot rate framework was first introduced in 2018. With the increase in hours from 37 to 40 hours, compared to those on standard terms and conditions, the tables below outlines percentage of sickness days lost. It is evident that although spot rate officers are working three hours extra a week, the data suggests that sickness levels are lower than those officers on the standard pay range.
Absence has been lower during the COVID 19 Pandemic; with spot rate sickness levels are even lower than 2018 and 2019.
Table 41: Wellbeing and sickness by year
Attrition has been steadily increasing up to April 2020. The impact of COVID-19 has seen on average a 50% significant reduction in leavers from the Agency. Prior to this 2016-17 attrition was at 6.23%, which has risen year on year. The current expected attrition for 2020-2021 is 7.5%.
Table 42: Attrition by grade
An area where attrition has been quite high has been in our Armed Operations Unit (Firearms), where a combination of an ageing workforce and high numbers of officers moving to the police has meant the team have struggled to maintain operational capacity. In order to alleviate the issue of police transfers we have begun using the expert spot rate within Firearms, since implementation in 2019 leavers within Firearms has reduced down to 5 in 2020 and 6 in 2021 from a high of 12 in 2018.
Table 43: Firearms leavers
Graph 1: Annual turnover by command
In order to understand the reasons for our officers leaving, we have examined data from our exit questionnaire. This data has been collected from October 2020 to November 2021. The table below shows that pay and benefits is a concern for officers. Whilst pay and benefits alone with not secure talent in the NCA, it is a key part of our wider reform programme to ensure we keep pace.
Table 44: Exit Questionnaire – reasons for leaving
Another primary reason for leaving the Agency was work life balance/workload, to seek different working conditions and personal circumstances (ill health/family reasons/caring responsibilities). We have seen, due to Covid-19, our officers adapting to homeworking well (as a short term measure), and data has outlined that our sickness levels have decreased from previous years. Flexible working may have been a cause of this and partially contributed to a better work life balance, resulting in better productivity for the Agency. The Agency is evaluating the success of this through our hybrid working pilot.
When consider what officers liked the most about working for the NCA, their team and relationships came out top, with their role and the opportunity to work on SOC also featuring highly.
Table 45: Exit Questionnaire – Reasons for working at NCA
Table 46: Exit Questionnaire – consideration period for leaving
Table 47: Exit Questionnaire – command leavers
Table 48: Exit Questionnaire – reasons for choosing new employer
As a law enforcement Agency we need to prepared to react to the changing nature of crime, this includes deploying officers outside of working hours and going beyond our normal working week. Officers at Grades 6-3 inclusive are entitled to request payment or time off in lieu (TOIL) for overtime worked, with the exception of Grade 3 officers on spot rates.
Authorised overtime is payable at the following rates:
i) Overtime worked on a rostered working or non-working day is paid at plain time up to 37 hours (or 40 hours if on spot rate framework) per week;
ii) Overtime worked on a rostered working or non-working day is paid at time and a half rate where over 37 hours (or 40 hours) are worked;
iii)iii) Overtime worked on a rostered rest day or Bank Holiday with less than 14 calendar days’ notice is paid at double time (with no requirement to have worked 37 (or 40) hours);
iv) Overtime worked on a rostered rest day or Bank Holiday where 14 or more days’ notice is paid at plain time in line with i) and ii) above);
a) Overtime
During 2020-21 the NCA spent £13.31m on overtime with the majority of overtime claimed in operational roles, with Intelligence and Investigations the biggest claimants.
Table 49: Total overtime claimed by command
At the NCA officers at Grades 3-6 are eligible to claim overtime, the below table shows that Grades 4 and 5 are the highest claimants, which matches with those two grades being the biggest grades in the Agency.
Table 50: Total overtime claimed by Grade
Looking at overtime claims by officers with and without powers, the split is even with powers officers claiming 51% of overtime.
Table 51: Total overtime claimed by powers
The tables below show the diversity & inclusion characteristics of overtime, showing the gender split, ethnicity, age groups and working patterns of claimants. The percentage breakdowns broadly reflect the NCA workforce, with there being minor differences in some areas.
Table 52: Total overtime claimed by gender
Table 53: Total overtime claimed by ethnicity
Table 54: Total overtime claimed by age group
Table 55: Total overtime claimed by working pattern
Officers have the ability to claim TOIL rather than overtime. During the financial year 20/21 there was agreement that officers could be paid TOIL at a standard rate. This was primarily caused by effects of the pandemic. The total cost of this was £211,392. The below table shows the grade breakdown of the payments made, Grade 4 was the highest claim with Grades 5 and 3 following closely behind.
Table 56: Total overtime claimed by grade
Overtime claims by Command follows a similar distribution as overtime, with operational areas having the largest total.
Table 57: Total overtime claimed by command
61% of overtime claims are from officers with powers, which broadly reflects the breakdown of powers vs. non-powers in the Agency.
Table 58: Total overtime claimed by Powers
The equality and diversity tables show a similar pattern to overtime, with a difference in gender and, to an extent, age. 63% of the TOIL claims were from male officers in the 50-59 age group.
Table 59: Total overtime by Gender
Table 60: Total overtime claimed by working pattern
Table 61: Total overtime claimed by age group
Table 62: Total overtime claimed by ethnicity
During 2021-22 we are expecting a full year forecast of £7.26m in contingent labour costs, with the majority spend being in DDaT and Corporate Business Services which are relatively small commands. Some of this spend will expected but the effects of this need to be investigated in preparation for the potential three year pay deal.
Table 63: Contingent Labour costs by command
The spot rate framework allows our officers to progress along a number of spot rate values as their skills and experience builds. The below table shows which spot rate value our officers currently are on as of 1st January 2022.
Table 64: Spot Rate Values by grade
Due to the job market which we recruit from, the majority of officers on the spot rate framework are male. One of the priorities for the Agency is making our workforce more diverse. As officers progress through the IOTP, we expect to see more females on spot rates. It is important we provide female officers with opportunities to progress up the grade structure. At grade 1 we only have 5 female officers on the spot rate framework.
Table 65: Spot Rate Values by grade and ethnicity
If we look at the ethnicity, we see a similar breakdown with the number of BAME officers at Grade 1 being zero, with the majority of officers at Grades 4 and 5. As we move towards producing the ethnicity pay gap, we need to improve opportunities for BAME officers at the highest grades.
Table 66: Spot Rate Values by grade and ethnicity
As shown above, the majority of our officers are on the standard pay range. The below breakdown shows the position in the pay range at each grade for officers on the standard pay range.
Table 67: Standard Pay Range by grade
When looking at the grade breakdown, we can start to see some of the challenges we face with the gender pay gap, with the majority of female officers sitting in the lower end of each grade.
Table 68: Standard Pay Range by grade and gender
As with the spot rate framework, the number of BAME officers at Grade 1 is low, with BAME officers on the whole being at the lower end of the grade pay range.
Table 69: Standard Pay Range by grade and ethnicity
1. A request from the NCARRB as part of their seventh report in 2021, and from officers’ feedback, is to set out how pay works in the NCA as part of our annual submission. The NCA workforce is comprised of a blend of specialist skills and capabilities, and therefore the pay framework is complex. The Agency has set its intent to move away from pay being focused on time-served in post, to a framework which is aligned with developing skills and capabilities. We have been able to achieve this in part, through the implementation of a new pay framework in operational commands, but there is more to do to develop the strategy for enabling functions.
2. The NCA Board is ultimately responsible for making decisions around the investment of the pay bill from a strategic perspective. This is overseen through governance by the Remuneration Committee, which is chaired by an operational Director. This committee is responsible for overseeing and implementing the pay framework in a way which is fair, data-driven and in line with strategy. It is comprised of senior leadership team representatives from all commands in the Agency.
3. It is important to note that the Agency operates as both a civil service department, and as a law enforcement organisation. Part of our workforce hold operational powers, and part do not.
4. The NCA therefore engage in dual processes to determine the pay award across the workforce. For officers who hold operational powers, the Home Secretary sets a remit letter, whereby the NCARRB (as an independent pay review body) are requested to present recommendations on pay for those officers under their remit. The NCARRB cover only those officers who hold operational powers. To support the NCARRB in making their assessment, the NCA submit this written evidence document, which must first be approved by HM Treasury and the Home Secretary. This evidence submission is embargoed until it is published as part of the annual cycle. Once it is published, it is supported through the presentation of oral evidence by the NCA DG. The broad timeline for this process is as follows:
November – Home Secretary issues the remit letter to the NCARRB (published on gov.uk)
February – NCA submits written evidence to government for consideration
March – NCA DG delivers oral pay evidence to support the pay case
May – The NCARRB produce their written recommendations
June – July – The government responds to their recommendations
5. There are a complex set of stakeholders and sign-off points throughout this process. The Home Secretary has accountability for the pay process and has developed a positive, partnership approach to working with the NCA.
6. As part of managing pay, the Agency engage with our three recognised Trade Unions, who represent the interests of their members. The Agency runs regular engagement discussions with the Trade Unions to invite challenge and scrutiny on proposals, and we shared planned workforce communications across parties. The Trade Unions also set their own set of evidence to the NCARRB to support in ensuring a holistic set of pay recommendations.
7. Whilst the NCARRB process covers officers with powers, non-powered officers pay is determined through a collective bargaining process with the Trade Unions. This is to negotiate on employees T&Cs whereby officers are not covered by an independent body.
8. Though, the NCA operate as one workforce, so there is consensus that both parts of the process should cover the entire pay award to ensure it is fair and equitable. This means that the NCA runs a multi-step process across each pay year, and often in parallel. This creates an often complex process.
9. The NCA are planning to submit a three year pay deal as part of the 23/24 submission. It is therefore prudent to consider the most efficient, effective and transparent pay process that will be deployed throughout that time to ensure the necessary level of scrutiny and challenge.
10.Engagement with officers on pay is key. The NCARRB feedback from their 2021 visits is reflective of the Agency engaging more, directly with the workforce. Officers will have not seen progression last year on pay, which has become evident through this year’s people survey results and some of the additional feedback that we have gathered through additional fora. There are areas we still need to do more work on, expert spot rates, allowances and capability based pay progression.
11.There is also a significant amount of pay activity that does not come under the direct remit of the annual pay bargaining and review processes. For example, the NCA utilises some form of recognition and performance bonuses through honorariums, which are awarded to those who go above and beyond their role, and end-of-year performance bonuses for officers who achieved exceeded outcomes in their performance review. To support this, the Agency has a number of pay processes, policies and procedures that are subject to negotiation with Trade Unions.
12.It is important to note that the above processes cover officers in delegated grades (Grade 1-6), and Senior Civil Service pay is governed centrally through government, with the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB).
Investigation Officer
Financial Investigation
Digital Media Investigation
Social Workers
Intelligence Analyst
Digital Forensics
Protected Persons
UKFIU Defence against Money Laundering (DAML) Team
UKFIU Terrorist Finance Team (TFT)
Intelligence (NDEC)
Data Science & Engineering
Infrastructure / Field / Software Engineering & Architecture
Cyber / IT Security
Service Desk
Information Assurance & Accreditation
All commands (Strategy lead)
Private Office
Project /Programme Management
Accredited Finance
Accredited Commercial
The Agency apply capability-based pay in line with the following criteria: pay comparison in the market, recruitment and retention data, the level of disruption & accountability in the role, the complexity of the role, and whether it is deemed ‘hard-to-fill’. 
Although only powered officers come under the remit of the NCARRB, table 1 presents the capability-based pay position across all roles, in order to give the organisational picture. 
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