Pay rises for nurses for the next four years look set to be “targeted” to best support recruitment and retention, meaning the 1% will not be universally applied.
The government has asked the NHS Pay Review Body to provide it with recommendations on how to apply the 1% pay rise next year, which was announced by George Osborne in his summer budget.
“The government has made it clear that pay restraint in the public sector continues to be a crucial part of its plans to reduce the deficit”
There was anger from unions in August when a letter sent from the Treasury to the review body said should be “no expectation” that every worker will receive a 1% increase, with some getting less and some more.
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In a new letter to the review body, the government stated that it would fund annual pay awards in the public sector at an “average” of 1% in each of the next four years from 2016-17 to 2019-20.
Health minister Lord David Prior said in the letter that he was “confirming the government’s approach” to pay awards in the public sector for 2016-17.
“I invite the NHS Pay Review Body to consider the case for targeting to support recruitment and retention, including high cost area supplement and to make recommendations within an average of 1% for staff employed under Agenda for Change,” said Lord Prior.
High cost area supplements are currently paid to all NHS staff groups who are covered by the Agenda for Change agreement on working in inner and outer London and the fringe zones.
In the letter to review body chair Jerry Cope, Lord Prior added: “The government has made it clear that pay restraint in the public sector continues to be a crucial part of its plans to reduce the deficit.
“I appreciate that this presents particular challenges, but your expert, impartial and independent judgement is vital as employers and staff respond to the unprecedented challenges facing the NHS,” he said.
The comments on the “vital” role of the review body follows the pay dispute during 2014-15, when the coalition government decided to reject the advisory group’s recommendation of a 1% pay rise for all NHS staff.
Lord Prior noted in the letter that review body’s remit covered the entire UK and that it was for each government “to make its own decisions on its approach to this year’s pay round”.