SENIOR employees of Huntingdonshire District Council face a pay freeze for at least a year – something that has become a way of life for many employees in the private sector.

SENIOR employees of Huntingdonshire District Council face a pay freeze for at least a year - something that has become a way of life for many employees in the private sector.

But there will still be some headroom for lower-paid employees, if the unions agree.

The council has earmarked a sum of money for extra pay in 2011/12 - equivalent for staff earning less than £17,000-a-year to the Treasury's low-pay provision announced in last month's emergency Budget - but it will be for the trade unions to suggest how the cash is distributed.

The Chancellor said low-paid public sector employees (the Treasury's definition was those earning less than £21,000) should get a rise of at least £250 a year.

The pay settlement will be determined at the council's employment panel meeting next Monday, following continuing negotiations.

The council's offer is based on the low-pay provision, but members will listen to any alternative suggestions the trade unions have to make, said Councillor Terry Rogers, executive member for finance.

"We put a provision of one per cent of the pay bill into the budget, and the offer is less than that," he told The Hunts Post.

"It's now for the trade unions to decide whether they accept that and how they would like to suggest the money is used."

Last year's HDC pay rise was two per cent on top of performance pay - compared with a reduction of 1.7 per cent in the cost of living, as measured by the Retail Prices Index.