To the Joint Trades Unions’ Local Pay Representatives:

Dear Colleagues

Without prejudice 

Thank you for submitting the Joint Trades Unions’ pay claim for 2020-21.  We welcomed the opportunity on 1 October 2020 to discuss your claim and we would also like to thank you for attending the Provost’s Board meeting on Tuesday 29 September 2020 to present your claim.

We appreciate your decision to submit your pay claim that is independently derived and we recognise the fact that it does not match the national pay claim of RPI plus 5%.  

As you are aware, the final national offer on pay is no uplift for the year 2020-21 and national employers have considered what action they would take if the sector position improves.  They have confirmed they will not be revisiting the 2020-21 pay round but will consider bringing the 2021-22 pay round forward. However, the employers and unions will review the impact of any increase to the National Living Wage in the 2020-21 year and will amend the bottom point of the pay spine to ensure it remains compliant with the National Living Wage rate.    We understand that one of the objectives of your pay claim is to maintain, “at a minimum the cumulative value of the pay settlement at Imperial since we left national pay bargaining in 2005”.  Since this period, the College cumulative pay award has been a headline increase of 39.3% (Appendix A).  We recognise and acknowledge that this has not fully matched London CPIH, but think the gap is closer than outlined in your pay claim, please see below.  This is only one of the factors considered by Provost’s Board when deciding the level of investment in the College total remuneration package.  

At your request, each year we engage Dr Rienzo to produce a CPIH London inflation measure. The information required to produce this measure means there is a delay by two years and the latest percentage supplied is for 2018. We have shared with Dr Rienzo your calculated projected 2019 measure for comment and she shared “that there is significant variation between national and London inflation each year and using past measures to determine potential future movement could not be relied on”, which is why we continue to commission the report.  Due to the risk in any projected percentage we cannot consider this as part of our determination for the annual pay award.

Thank you for sharing your calculations that you used to set out the difference in the College annual pay award and London Inflation.  The outcome of your projected calculations is: “pay has now fallen 3.7% in real terms below 2005 values”.  We have reviewed your figures for the period 2005 to 2018 (the date of the latest London CPIH measure) and  calculate the cumulative difference between the College annual pay award and London inflation is 0.4% (i.e. College pay in real terms has reduced by 0.4%).  The 0.4% is reflective of someone earning £35,000 per annum in 2005 and in 2010, based on our local pay awards, would now be earning £47,700 per annum.  Please see Appendix A.

Your calculation of the College pay award does not reflect that at times in the past, a fixed minimum increase was awarded, which for some will have been above the headline percentage increase. For example, in 2012 a 1% increase was agreed, but a minimum increase of £800 was included in the agreement which for anyone earning less than £80,000 per annum was more than a 1% increase. Another example is last year’s award which was a fixed increase of £1,080 for all staff, which resulted in a higher increase than 2% for anyone earning below £54,000 – for some it was as high as 5.2%.

We note that your pay claim solely focuses on inflation. As mentioned at the Provost’s Board meeting, when reviewing the level of investment in the College Total Remuneration Package as stated in our published pay principles we consider: affordability; recruitment and retention data; higher education institutions and other sectors’ pay awards; benchmark salaries; and the College’s Pay and Benefits review (Unfortunately, as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, prioritisation has been diverted which resulted in a delay to this year’s Pay and Benefit information).  

At the start of the pandemic, despite the potential impact of COVID-19, the College committed to honour the October automatic incremental progression, unlike a number of other Higher Education Institutions. On 1 October 2020, 63% of staff will receive an increase to their base pay. For eligible academic and research staff this will be an average increase of 4.3% and for support staff, 2.4%.  In addition, during 2019, 1,019 members of staff received either a one-off payment or adjustment to their pay as part of the Pay Relativity process. This level of investment in salaries is demonstrated in the survivor analysis table at Appendix B.


At our meeting on the 14 September 2020 and again on 1 October 2020, you were provided with an advance update on the College 2019-20 Annual report and accounts that are still being audited and scheduled to be published in November. We also shared information on staff costs.  The unaudited accounts showed the College finances were in a positive position, with tuition income growing, although the College would have experienced an operating deficit last year were it not for the impact of the adjustment of the provision for the USS pension liabilities.  Cash for operations has reduced and less is being spent on capital expenditure as we come to the end of a major phase of investment.  During the last four years staff numbers and costs have increased, with the recurring cost (i.e. that part that is not externally funded) growing by an annualised 7.9% whilst recurrent income has not grown at the same pace, 4.9%.  We also provided more granular information on staff recurrent costs.

Cost of your pay claim

Your headline claim is for an across-the-board increase of 3.7%, which would be a recurring cost of circa £18m (including £5.7m externally funded costs). This level of additional recurrent annual expenditure in the present climate is not sustainable for the College.  The ongoing impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic remains unclear and the potential forthcoming impact of changes to pensions must be considered.

College Pay Offer 2020/21

The Provost’s Board appreciates the efforts you make on an annual basis as part of this process to represent the best interests of staff. The Board have carefully considered your pay claim, which you presented at the September Board meeting, alongside our principles we have already mentioned. The College’s average salaries remain above both the London and Russell Group averages, helping the College to recruit and retain the high-calibre staff who deliver our mission and as stated above the national pay award this year is zero.  

For 2020/21, our pay offer is 1.1% across-the-board - £5.4m (including £1.7m externally funded costs).

As explained at the Provost’s Board meeting the College is committed to addressing equality pay gaps (gender and ethnicity) and have previously agreed to negotiations about the use of fixed term contracts.  During our meeting you shared the approach taken by UKRI to support the extension of fixed term contracts which you indicated was continuous. This extension is for a time limited period of four months, not indefinitely.  Work had begun on reviewing fixed term contracts but paused due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Board are supportive of the re-start of negotiations on the use of fixed term contracts and equality pay gaps.

In relation to workload concerns this issue was raised through our 2019 staff survey and forms part of the Provost’s Board action plan being taken forward by Professor Jonathan Weber, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine.  Professor Weber has met with you on two occasions and shared with you the importance to the College to address this issue and values your input, which is ongoing.  This is high priority and time critical as the recent May and September Wellbeing Pulse surveys show this issue is not abating.  As you are aware a proposal will be presented to the October Provost’s Board and you have been invited to contribute to this.  You will also be invited to contribute to any ongoing work in relation to this issue.

This offer and your pay claim will be placed on the Local Pay Bargaining Webpage after our second negotiating meeting on 14 October 2020.

Yours sincerely

Audrey Fraser on behalf of the College negotiating team

Cc: Harbhajan Brar – Director of HR
Emily Michael – Note taker (HR)
Neil Alford – Associate Provost (Academic Planning)
Tony Lawrence – Director of Finance
Jon Tucker – Faculty Operating Officer, Business School
Lynne Cox – Director of Research Office
Jane Neary – Director of Campus Services 

CC: Staff side representatives
Tom Pike – UCU
Michael McGarvey – UCU
Amanda Sackur – UCU
Tanya Hunt – Unison
Boyana Petrovich – Unison
Darren Hickey – Unison
Fiona May – Unite
Susan Parker – Unite
Andrew Murray - Unite

Appendix A

College increases in comparison to National

Date of IncreaseHigher EducationImperial College London
1 August 2006 Higher of 3% or £515 Higher of 3% or £590
1 February 2007 1% 1.2%
1 August 2007 3% Higher of 3% or £490
1 May 2008 Higher of 3% or £240 3%
1 October 2008 5% 5%
1 August 2009 0.5% 0.5%
1 August 2010 0.4% 0.5% 
1 August 2011 £150 Higher of 2% or £500
1 August 2012 1% Higher of 1% or £800
1 August 2013 1% 2%
1 August 2014 2% 2%
1 August 2015 1% (with up to 2.65% on points 1 to 8) Higher of 1% or £450
1 August 2016 1.1% (with up to 3.1% on points 1 to 7) 1.2% on first £61,000, 0.5% on above
1 August 2017 1.7% (with up to 2.4% on points 1 to 16) 2% on first £67,110, 0.5% on above (except SP1 which received 3%, and SP2 which got 2.5%)
1 August 2018 Higher of 2% and £425 Higher of 3% or £1,000- subject to maximum increase of £3,000
1 August 2019 1.8% (with up to 3.65% on points 2 to 16) £1,080
Summary of the table's contents

Example Imperial College Salary Increases

 London CPIHLower EarnerMiddle EarnerHigher Earner
Salary in 2005 109.1 £15,000 £35,000 £80,000
Salary in 2018
allowing for pay award increases only
(up to and including 1 August 2018)
149.0 £21,940 £47, 680 £107,000
Increase 36.6% 46.3% 36.2% 33.8%
Summary of the table's contents

Appendix B

This table excludes Clinical staff, Nursing staff, employees with any level of NHS funding and Senior Research Investigators.  It includes those who were employed on both dates (Jul 2019 and Jul 2020).

It ranks these employees based on their FTE salary in Jul 2019 and places them in groups of 250 employees, with the highest basic salaries ranking 1-250.  It compares this group of 250 people with their own individual salaries in Jul 2020, regardless of where they rank in Jul 2020.

This table compares the total sum of each groups salaries as well as their average at the two points in time.  This is then shown as an average % difference in salary in Jul 2020 compared to the groups averaged Jul 2019 salary.

In every ranked group, Jul 2020 saw a higher average salary which is to be expected, however the largest increases were seen in the lower ranking groups.  It is expected that job opportunities for career progression is more prevalent amongst these groups.  These groups will also see larger increases because, for example, a move from a band 1a post to a 3b post can represent around a 60% increase to salary.

Survivor analysis is more accurate for salary comparisons.

Rank of survivors in Jul 2019Total FTE IC contribution Jul 2019Total FTE IC contribution Jul 2020Difference in Total FTE IC ContributionAverage FTE IC contribution Jul 2019Average FTE IC contribution Jul 2020Difference in Ave FTE IC ContributionAverage of % difference of salary
1-250 £37,293,200 £37,304,272 £11,072 £149,173 £149,217 £44 0.0%
251-500 £24,343,530 £24,997,763 £654,233 £97,374 £99,991 £2,617 2.7%
501-750 £20,581,556 £21,122,876 £541,319 £82,326 £84,492 £2,165 2.6%
751-1000 £17,744,860 £18,351,019 £606,159 £70,979 £73,404 £2,425 3.4%
1001-1250 £16,572,745 £17,130,387 £557,643 £66,291 £68,522 £2,231 3.4%
1251-1500 £15,722,575 £16,335,245 £612,670 £62,890 £65,341 £2,451 3.9%
1501-1750 £14,506,646 £15,176,359 £669,714 £58,027 £60,705 £2,679 4.6%
1751-2000 £14,000,598 £14,623,165 £622,567 £56,002 £58,493 £2,490 4.4%
2001-2250 £13,199,371 £13,954,079 £754,708 £52,797 £55,816 £3,019 5.7%
2251-2500 £12,361,772 £13,000,107 £638,334 £49,447 £52,000 £2,553 5.2%
2501-2750 £11,770,900 £12,300,907 £530,007 £47,084 £49,204 £2,120 4.5%
2751-3000 £11,563,498 £12,028,525 £465,027 £46,254 £48,114 £1,860 4.0%
3001-3250 £11,303,013 £11,811,341 £508,328 £45,212 £47,245 £2,033 4.5%
3251-3500 £10,771,887 £11,461,518 £689,631 £43,088 £45,846 £2,759 6.4%
3501-3750 £10,345,877 £11,217,118 £871,241 £41,384 £44,868 £3,485 8.4%
3751-4000 £10,214,500 £10,973,794 £759,294 £40,858 £43,895 £3,037 7.4%
4001-4250 £9,845,828 £10,575,990 £730,162 £39,383 £42,304 £2,921 7.4%
4251-4500 £9,618,274 £10,218,781 £600,507 £38,473 £40,875 £2,402 6.2%
4501-4750 £9,371,440 £10,130,213 £758,773 £37,486 £40,521 £3,035 8.1%
4751-5000 £9,124,597 £9,546,493 £421,896 £36,498 £38,186 £1,688 4.6%
5001-5250 £8,987,425 £9,646,065 £658,640 £35,950 £38,584 £2,635 7.3%
5251-5500 £8,563,747 £9,218,201 £654,454 £34,255 £36,873 £2,618 7.6%
5501-5750 £8,022,103 £8,630,509 £608,406 £32,088 £34,522 £2,434 7.6%
5751-6000 £7,400,816 £7,876,823 £476,007 £29,603 £31,507 £1,904 6.4%
6001-6250 £6,081,915 £6,503,926 £422,011 £24,328 £26,016 £1,688 6.9%
6251-6412 £3,360,640 £3,615,426 £254,786 £20,745 £22,317 £1,573 7.6%
Grand Total £332,673,312 £347,750,903 £15,077,591 £51,883 £54,234 £2,351 4.5%