Living on £19,000 a year…

I’ve just finished reading through the findings of the PAT and one of the most worrying results is that the proposal that new recruits into the Police should start on a salary of just £19,000 a year has been accepted. Personally, if that was the starting salary when I joined I would not have done it. Not because I would have expected to be paid more than that, but simply because I don’t think I would be able to live on such a salary. This salary is also less than the current starting salary for PCSOs and for Police Staff Investigators.

Therefore, I’ve created a fictional family and have worked out how they would fare if the husband joined the Police as a new recruit in April 2013.

My family consists of the husband; 29 year old Joseph. It’s been his ambition to join the Police for a number of years, but due to the recruitment freezes he has been unable to do so until now. He was a Corporal in the British Army and served his last three years in the Army with the Military Police. His salary when he left was in excess of £30,000 a year. He left the Army two years ago, whilst his wife was pregnant, and applied to his local force straight away. However, due to the recruitment freeze he was stuck in the system for two years.  He now finally has a start date of April 2013 and has been told that his starting salary will be £19,000 a year.

His wife, Josephine, works part time as a manager in a local clothing store. Her salary is also £19,000 per annum, but this is calculated on a pro rata basis and therefore her actual salary is £11,397.60 as she only works 3 days a week.

Joseph and Josephine have been married for five years and together they have an 18 month old baby, Joey.

They live in a two bedroom house within the Force area, which is somewhere in the South East. Therefore, when Joseph starts his training he will be entitled to an extra £1,000 a year living allowance.

Before Joseph joins the Police he sits down and works out how much money the family will have at the end of each month as he is slightly concerned that they won’t have enough. When he applied to join the Police the starting salary was £4,000 a year more and he knew things would be difficult on that amount.

A salary of £19,000 a year would mean getting paid £1,583.00 a month. If we include the living allowance this goes up to £1,666.34 a month.

From this £1,666.34 a month we must take tax (around £299.94), National Insurance (around £133.31), Pension at 10.5% (£174.97), Federation fees (around £22), Federation Insurance (£22 again) and he also pays into the Police Welfare Fund (£8 a month). That leaves Joseph with a take home pay of around £1,006.12.

Now, as I said Josephine works part time in a clothing store and is paid £11,397.60 a year or £949.80 a month. After tax (£142.47) and National Insurance (£75.98) she takes home £731.35 a month.

In total our couple are bringing home £1,737.47 a month and they need this to cover all of the household expenditures. I’ve based these on average prices in an area covered by the South East living allowance.

Rent for a two bedroomed house (which is not quite big enough for the family and not in the best area) £800 a month.
Broadband, phone, electric and gas (paid as one bill through the same company) £100 a month.
Water £25 a month.
Council tax £120 a month.
Joey’s childcare (3 days a week in nursery) £477.90 a month.
Fuel for Joseph’s car to get the five miles to training school every day £25 a week, so £100 a month.
Fuel for Josephine to get the five miles to her place of work every day £18 a week or £72 a month.

This comes to a grand total of £1,694 a month. When this is taken from their monthly earnings Joseph and Josephine would be left with £42.57 a month for food and any other necessary expenditures such as car repairs, clothing etc.

Obviously this is entirely fictional and the figures are based on local averages, but I think it is terrifying that in the very near future Officers will be sent out onto the front line to face death, violence and abuse when they have nothing like the disposable income that those they arrest do. They will have to work long, thankless, antisocial hours to earn the same wages as a manager for McDonalds.

If I was about to join the Police, I know what I’d do….I wouldn’t.

Post script: I have just realised that Joseph and Josephine are both driving illegally as neither have paid their car tax or car insurance. Nor have they paid a TV license, household insurance or contents insurance. Certainly there will be nothing left of their £42 when they’ve paid for those things too.

4 thoughts on “Living on £19,000 a year…

  1. Mark says:

    I joined in my mid thirties, and have 8 years I now, and when I joined, with 2 small kids plus a wife who works part time due to my shift work, we couldn’t afford it on paper, but reassured ourselves that we’d be back on track in about 5 years with the pay increments.
    Fast forward to now, and I’d be a welcome guest on Jeremy Kyle, I can’t afford any dental treatment, miss one meal a day to save on money, and only pay the interest on my mortgage, which I’m now paying about £200 a month less than I should be.
    With no forseeable pay rises, no promotion, and very little paid overtime, too say I made a bad career choice would be something of an understatement!

  2. Bob S (retired pleb) says:

    I joined in 1983 and my salary was £9500 a year. I also had free accomodation in a section house and my only expense was for food and general living. To think that 30 years later the starting pay has now been reduced to a level that is lower than what it was in September 2003.

    My police pay when I started represented a 50% increase on my old job. I certainly wouldn’t join now for £19k. I wouldn’t join now with Winsor as HMIC and the Government working hard to destroy the service, aided and abetted by ACPO.

    I am so glad to have escaped the omnishambles that the police service has become and I feel sorry for those who still have a long time to go who have been totally shafted by Cameron, May and Winsor.

  3. Richard says:

    In the north where i live, £19,000 is a good wage and many families do not bring in that kind of money and as for bringing in almost 12k from a part time job, around here that is not going to happen, if you are lucky enough to have a job it will be the minimum wage.

    I have not given full consideration to the amount officers should be paid so will not comment on the the 19k figure.

    I’m only commenting on the outcries of potential hardship. Welcome to the real world.

  4. Pickletum says:

    I know a lot of families that work for a lot less a year , I’m not saying police shouldn’t get paid more because I personally think they should.
    However your notion that you wouldn’t be able to live on 19k a year is ludicrous (which would rise significantly after 2 years) perhaps you should visit up north when plenty of people survive on wages of about 14k a year.

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