A report on the widespread introduction of regional pay setting in the NHS has been with civil servants for more than two months, Nursing Times has learnt.
The Department of Health received the findings of a review by the NHS Pay Review Body at the beginning of July. Chancellor George Osborne first mooted the idea of introducing differing regional pay levels across the public sector in his 2011 autumn statement.
Nursing Times understands the chancellor wants to see similar reports from the rest of the public sector before he decides whether to press ahead with plans to introduce regional pay. The School Teachers Review Body, the last to submit its conclusions, is expected to hand over its report to ministers later this month.
The DH supports the idea and wants to see new “high cost area supplements” – similar to the existing London weighting – introduced more widely. These would increase pay in some regions, but would be paid for by lower wages elsewhere.
It suggested two alternatives in its submission to the PRB review in April. One option would see a new pay zone covering London and much of the South, while a second option includes those areas plus parts of the Midlands as well as areas in and around Manchester and Leeds.
However, the Liberal Democrats potentially set themselves on a collision course with their coalition partners by voting to block moves towards regional pay setting at their annual conference last week.
Both the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and business secretary Vince Cable have voiced their opposition to the idea, arguing that it could damage local economies and undermine services.
A Treasury spokesman told Nursing Times: “In line with the usual process the government is considering the independent pay review bodies’ reports and will publish and respond in due course. Nothing has yet been decided.”