Liberal Democrats have announced an election pledge to end pay restraint for nurses by lifting the 1% cap on public sector pay and up-rating wages in line with inflation.
The plans, which would also cover other public sector workers, would lead to an estimated salary increase of £527 a year for nurses by 2021, according to the party.
“We will stand up for our hospitals and give hard-working nurses the pay rise they deserve”
Liberal Democrat financial spokesman Vince Cable said public sector workers were facing “pitiful increases to pay combined with a Brexit squeeze caused by soaring inflation”.
“Our NHS is already struggling to recruit the staff they need,” he said. “Living standards are falling, prices are rising and nurses are going to food banks – but Theresa May doesn’t care.
“A better future is available,” said Mr Cable. “We will stand up for our hospitals and give hard-working nurses the pay rise they deserve.
“Within our carefully costed commitments, we believe government can and must lift the cap on public sector pay,” he added.
The Liberal Democrats would remove the 1% cap on pay rises in the public sector. Instead wages would increase in line with the Consumer Price Index.
Based on the Office of Budgetary Responsibility’s inflation forecasts, it said this would mean a pay rise of £779 for the average public sector worker.
The plans will be fully costed in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, which will be launched in due course, added the party.
The party highlighted that the Conservative government had called on the NHS Pay Review Body to recommend a cap on nurse pay rises of 1% for each year between 2015 and 2019.
As a result, it noted that public sector salaries were falling behind inflation, representing a real terms cut.
Lib Dems make election pledge to increase nurse pay by £527
However, the party was in power during 2014-15 pay dispute, when the coalition government decided to reject the pay review body’s recommendation of a 1% pay rise for all NHS staff.
Instead, the coalition unsuccessfully attempted to limit the 1% increase to those staff not due an increment rise. However, it backed down and negotiated with unions after strike action.
- Nurse and midwife strike action suspended after new pay offer
- Unions have announced a fresh round of strikes over NHS pay
- Nurses and midwives go on strike again over 1% pay dispute
The Labour Party has also previously made an election pledge to remove the 1% cap on nurse pay rises, though it has so far not revealed by how much.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn are both due to speak at this year’s Royal College of Nursing annual congress in Liverpool.