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Warning from chancellor of further public sector pay restraint


Pay restraint for public sector staff including NHS workers will continue into the next parliament, chancellor George Osborne told MPs yesterday.

Delivering his autumn statement in the Commons, Mr Osborne revealed the coalition government’s restraint on public sector pay was expected to have delivered £12bn by the end of the current parliament.

Under the approach, NHS staff had their pay frozen for two years from 2011, then received a 1% rise for 2013-14.

For 2014-15 the government decided there would be a 1% rise only for those not eligible for an incremental pay increase, despite a recommendation by the independent NHS Pay Review Body of 1% across the board.

“Without paying nurses a fair wage for the work they do, the government is devaluing their work”

Peter Carter

Mr Osborne said the government’s approach to public sector pay restraint would be repeated in the next parliament to deliver a “commensurate amount” of savings.

Documents published by the Treasury yesterday afternoon said: “Public sector pay restraint in this parliament is expected to save an estimated £12bn by 2014-15. The government will need to continue to reform, and take tough decisions on, public sector pay while it continues to reduce the current budget deficit until 2017-18, and would expect to deliver commensurate savings.”

George Osborne

The Department of Health’s decision about pay for 2014-15 has sparked a pay dispute with unions, which have already held two four-hour walkouts and a week of “work to rule”.

In a joint statement, issued ahead of the autumn statement, NHS unions called for talks to bring an end to the dispute. It said: “Since 2010, NHS staff have had a 15% cost of living cut to the value of their pay; some have lost significantly more through cuts to other elements of pay.”

The statement added: “With a further £2bn promised by the chancellor for the NHS for front line staff and services, trade unions are calling on the government to use some of this money to resolve the ongoing pay dispute.

“It is in patients’ interest to have staff who feel motivated and fairly rewarded rather than being pushed into taking industrial action because the government won’t negotiate with unions,” it said. “Without this the NHS faces more disruption into the new year and beyond.”

Responding after the autumn statement, Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing described the Chancellor’s words on pay as a “further blow to hard-pressed, demoralised staff”.

Peter Carter

“The UK’s nursing staff are working flat-out to keep the health service going under extraordinary pressure,” he said. “They work long hours caring for the vulnerable, and have endured five years without cost of living increases.

“The prospect of this continuing for year upon year is an insult to hard working nursing staff and raises serious concerns about the UK’s ability to employ the staff it needs in the long term to meet the level of demand the NHS faces,” he said.

“Without paying nurses a fair wage for the work they do, the government is devaluing their work,” he added.


Readers' comments (27)

  • We have an election in May, there are lots of nurses; we should all exercise our vote appropriately.

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  • There are an awful lot of ex NHS employees at the moment who have been forced out of their jobs to 'save money' /employ people on lower terms and conditions, they've gone on successive MARS and 'Voluntary' redundancy schemes you hope they too will vote appropriately?

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  • George Orwell got it right about the pigs at the trough!!! I thought the MP's were public sector staff, but we never see them having their large pay rises refused!!!!

    There is a serious need for qualified nurses to be employed in the NHS and for high quality care to be maintained and this cannot happen on a shoe string. It would save far more money by reducing Senior Management numbers and pay and employing more clinicians.

    Grumpy from Grimsby!

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  • Can someone please tell me why anyone leaving School would want to proceed with a career in nursing.

    They have taken so many Band 6 and Band 7 posts away in the last 8-10years and continue to do so.

    There is now a glass ceiling for nurses. They are going to be spending the next 10-12 years as a Band five nurse with no incentives and little or no chance of a wage increase.

    Time to go looking for other employment with better prospects.........

    So the fact that they are not going to give public service workers a pay increase leads me to believe that

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  • What did I do wrong? I get up every day, do a great job, pay my tax and contribute to my pension. Guess that's why the economy is in a mess then. The public sector has made their contribution to the budget deficit that we had no part in creating. Think George needs to balance his books from those that contributed most to this mess.

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  • I wish people would stop going on about how much MPs get paid. If the funding for one Staff Nurse equivalent from each Trust in the UK was diverted into the House of Commons salary pool, it would equate to a rise of just under £16,900. (£25k each from 392 Trusts).

    The tabloids are suggesting that the pay rise will be around £7,500 per MP. That equals 195 Staff Nurses, so that is half a Staff Nurse per Trust.

    Be angry about the apparent double standards by all means, but don't go thinking that their pay rise will fund a pay rise for us.

    Yes the MPs are getting a huge pay rise (although part of that is because of changes in their expense allowances) but the increase to the public purse is minimal. I'm not an MP, and I'm not married (or in any other kind of relationship) to one - I just dislike disingenuous or misleading lines of argument. Rant over :)

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  • The NHS does not value nurses who are regarded by "managers" as multi-skilled porters, domestics and clerks.

    Anyone able to do so should seriously consider emigrating to Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the USA. In any one of these countries your professionalism will be valued and well rewarded.

    Checking out the opportunities costs nothing!

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  • peter carter you and your ilk are why we are so badly paid

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  • I completely disagree with one of the above anonymous comments. MPs should NOT be getting massive year on year pay rises and expecting the rest of us to suffer. Whether or not their pay rises would be diverted into the nurses pay rise pot is irrelevant. It is the principles which is all wrong. I am sorry but I am going to rant about the MP pay rises which are far above anyone elses be cause it is NOT FAIR. It is time nurses were paid fairly and senior nurses who are experienced valued rather than looking to cut these posts and keep managers and highly paid directors and consultants in place. These people do not keep services going it is the front line staff.

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  • Anon 4/12 4:53 pm

    I can do an MP's job, the trouble is they cannot do my job with what I have to put with on every single shift. We are all in this together remember that.

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