Local authority IT staff continue to earn considerably less than their counterparts in the private sector, according to the latest salary survey from the Society of IT Management (Socitm).
And with salary increases for private sector IT staff rising ahead of those paid by local authorities in the last 12 months, there are no signs of the situation improving, the society has warned.
The survey, conducted by remuneration specialists Computer Economics Limited and Remuneration Economics (CELRE), also highlights a significant increase in IT staff turnover in local authorities, although attrition rates are still way below the rest of the industry.
But many local authorities are compensating for their salary shortfalls by offering a variety of fringe benefits to complement base pay.
Over 90 per cent offer flexible working hours to staff, and one in four plan to increase opportunities for homeworking in the next year. A further 85 per cent offer job sharing and 71 per cent have a structured training and development plan for all staff.
Andy Roberts, chair of Socitm's membership group, warned that the widening gulf between basic salary levels among local authority IT staff and those working in the private sector had to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
"In most disciplines, local authorities compete with each other for staff, but in IT we compete directly with the private sector, and salaries must reflect that fact," he said.
"At a time when, as our survey shows, staff turnover is rising, we need to focus on the headline salary," he added. "If not, we are going to have real problems recruiting and retaining quality staff, especially when the economy picks up and the private sector starts hiring again."
Paul Offen, head of information systems at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, said egovernment projects and increased opportunities to work with new technologies meant that recruiting staff was much easier than it used to be.
"In general, public sector salaries are still an issue, particularly outside of London," Offen said. "But we've realised the situation and there's much more scope for salaries to be bumped up to find the right people, whereas in the past we would have taken on contractors to fill gaps."
The CELRE/Socitm salary survey is based on data from 141 local authorities, covering more than 5,000 staff, seven job levels, five job functions and a total of 105 key skills.
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