The government has been accused of hampering efforts to employ more midwives, after unveiling a two-year pay freeze for workers in the public sector.
In his emergency Budget, chancellor George Osborne also said public services’ current expenditure will be cut by £30bn a year by 2014-15, with extra reductions in departmental spending of £17bn by the same time.
However, moves to protect the 1.7 million public sector workers earning less than £21,000, who will receive a £250 pay increase in both years, have been welcomed.
Jon Skewes, director of employment relations and development at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Midwives will be deeply concerned about the pay freeze, which is effectively a pay cut. Whilst the flat rise for lower-paid workers is welcome, this will do nothing to bring people into midwifery at a time when we are still many thousands of midwives short.
“Both parties in this coalition government have promised to employ more midwives. This will not help them to achieve it.”
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Nurses, social workers, midwives, paramedics, police community support officers, housing and environmental officers who provide vital public services, are amongst those who will be hit hardest by the two year pay freeze, and for local government workers this comes on top of this year’s freeze.”