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Chancellor signals cap on pay rises and more attacks on AfC


Nurses face future basic pay rises capped at 1% and renewed attempts to drive down pay progression, suggest today’s Budget statement.  

The Chancellor said public sector pay awards would be limited to an average of up to 1% until 2015-16.

This represents an extension to the 1% rise for NHS staff that was announced earlier this month by the government and which comes into effect on 1 April.

The previous announcement was criticised by unions for being well below inflation and by employers for adding to the financial pressures faced by trusts. The extension of the 1% rise in basic pay is therefore unlikely to please either side.

Of more concern to nurses and other staff is likely to be George Osborne’s rhetoric on incremental pay rises for public sector works, which NHS staff receive through the Agenda for Change framework.

In his Budget speech today, Mr Osborne said: “The government will extend the restraint on public sector pay for a further year by limiting increases to an average of up to 1% in 2015-16.

“We will also seek substantial savings from what is called progression pay. These are the annual increases in the pay of some parts of the public sector.

“I think they are difficult to justify when others in the public sector, and millions more in the private sector, have seen pay frozen or even cut,” he said. “I know that is tough but it is fair.”

Mr Osborne’s comments come barely a month after employers and unions agreed to changes to AfC, which will see some reductions in pay, terms and conditions.

However, the Chancellor did state that the NHS budget would remain ring-fenced over the next two financial years.

“We will reduce resource departmental expenditure limits by the equivalent to a 1 per cent reduction for most departments,” he said.  “The schools and health budgets will remain protected – because our promise to our NHS is a promise we will keep.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: “The Chancellor is either oblivious to the tough time that millions of public sector workers and their families are having or he is deliberately setting out to punish them.

“Family budgets are at breaking point and millions of nurses, teachers, fire-fighters, council workers and civil servants will have been hoping the Chancellor might ease their pain today, not add significantly to it,” he said.

“The government also seems set on ditching long-established, easy-to-understand pay progression in the public sector based on increased experience and skills over time,” he added.

“Reports of a further move towards a messy system of individual performance-related pay will damage morale – already at a low ebb – undermine team working, and do nothing to improve services.”

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Yet again hard working nurses will not find much cause for celebration in this year’s budget.

“The news that public sector pay will continue to be capped at 1% until 2016 means yet more financial difficulty for the UK’s nurses. This also continues to undermine the principle of an independent pay review body.”

Jon Skewes, director for employment relations, policy and communications at the Royal College of Midwives, added: “This condemns hard-working midwives to another three years of pay misery after two years when pay was frozen. We are also deeply concerned about the plans to stop pay progression.”

But Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “Even limited to 1%, the public sector pay increase announced by George Osborne this afternoon will add in the region of £500m to NHS annual expenditure when applied across all NHS staff.

“This is the equivalent of around 15,000 new nurses,” he claimed.


Readers' comments (18)

  • What else did we expect from this absolute bar-steward? Time for a strike.

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  • We have gone backwards again, all that training, propping up services because we are cheaper than medics, well no more putting my registration at risk trying to juggle all these demands, I'm off!!

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  • Tinkerbell

    we want to destroy and demoralise the NHS so we can privatise it isn't actually a vote winner is it, but at least it would be more honest.

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  • This is a disastrous budget for a lot of us. There is nothing in it at all that will benefit me or my partner as usual.

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  • will all medical/nursing personnel working until aged 67 have to undergo the same dementia tests they subject their elderly patients to?

    with the increase of life expectancy and rise in retirement age perhaps the age of being labelled 'geriatric' should be raised as well. I am sure people still working in the NHS until such an advanced age won't wished to be labelled geriatrics!

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  • Another couple years of scrimping and saving, on top of the years we've already had. It's not going to help us to spend more money other than on essentials and if lucky a few treats.
    If given a choice of what to train for and where to work I reckon people will look towards finance, banking, technology and law. Better than spending all that hard work + energy where you're not going anywhere, constantly criticized for not being good enough, on real terms pay reductions every year and little or no support from employers, and downgrading for experienced staff who have more skills, experienced + highly trained.
    The so called savings isn't going to bring in 15000 more nurses, not going to stop even more nurses losing their jobs or decrease in pay, definitely not going to stop things costing more just to provide same level of care (even though we know standards must improve). So ring fencing without covering for inflationary costs will not help.
    Time to chop the fat of non productive staff, those who don't help or assist directly with the needs of frontline care, those who don't want to implement evidence-based research, reports + commissions which tell us how to improve our services.
    Money is tight but more of the same (harsh) conditions directed at us isn't working, time for them to look elsewhere to cut wastes and to improve efficiency.

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  • At least the personal allowance has gone up to £10,000, and if you are on a million quid a year, your tax bill drops by £42,000, so we're all in it together!

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  • In effect the nurses are on a trajectory of being worse off year by year now we have the incremental scales within the bands abolished. Lets see out of reach each hospital puts standards in for each job description to attain an increment....wishful or unrealistic ?

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  • Personal allowance only up next year, 2014. Why not next month.

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  • Osborne says that incremental pay rises within the bands are hard to justify while private sector and others don't get it. What about career progression? He can't expect us to stay on the same pay infinitum; not everyone gets a promotion and the chance to earn more. He tries to make us feel that we owe him to even have a job in the public sector. Before long he will have stopped all unsocial hours enhancements, and have us all on one pay point for each band. In addition, we won't get any pay for the first few days of sickness, and we will get only 1 or 2 months full pay and 1 or 2 months half pay if on long term sick. Then it will be statutory sick pay only, and/or benefits. He will then wonder where all the nurses are! It is truly depressing.

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