Some public sector staff to miss out on pay rise over next five years

Not every public sector worker will be receiving the 1% pay rise promised to staff in the government’s Summer Budget, according to a letter sent to seven pay review bodies by the Treasury.

Treasury chief secretary Greg Hands MP (pictured) said in the letter – addressed to representatives of the NHS, doctors and dentists, prison services, police, senior salaries, teachers,  and the armed forces – that there should be “no expectation” that all workers would receive a pay rise, as these would be applied in a “targeted manner”.

He said in the letter: “The government expects pay awards to be applied in a targeted manner to support the delivery of public services, and to address recruitment and retention pressures.

“This may mean that some workers could receive more than 1% while others could receive less; there should not be an expectation that every worker will receive a 1% award.”

Hands added that departments would submit proposals to their pay review bodies outlining the needs to their workforces.

He blamed the limited pay rises on the £20bn of public sector savings announced in the Summer Budget, which sought to deliver a surplus by 2019-20. “Whilst the deficit and debt are being reduced, the government will need to continue to ensure restraint in public sector pay. Without such restraint, reductions would need to come from other areas of spend, resulting in negative impacts on public services and jobs.

“At a time of difficult decisions, the government’s pay policy will help to protect the jobs of thousands of front line public sector workers,” Hands added.

Trade union Unison reacted angrily to the letter, accusing the government of “smoke and mirrors” in their original pay rise pledge. Union general secretary, Dave Prentis, highlighted the impact on NHS staff and said: “There was no substance to Osborne’s claim and NHS staff will be bitterly disappointed to hear many of them may not even get an extra penny for five more years. It is difficult to see how much targeting you can get from a miserly 1% without resulting in hundreds of thousands not getting a pay rise at all.

“Ministers’ acknowledgment of saving at least £8bn with the pay caps and freezes imposed on public sector pay proves it is nurses, healthcare assistants, porters and paramedics who are still paying for a deficit they have nothing to do with.”

The Treasury secretary noted that the government will continue to “examine pay reforms” and consider relevant legislation to achieve their budget objectives – alongside the help of pay review bodies.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the pay cap in July, looking to save approximately £5bn.

He added that, overall, levels of pay in the public sector are now, on average, comparable to those in the private sector. However, public sector workers continue to benefit from a significant premium once employer pension contributions are taken into account.

(Top image c. Dominic Lipinski, PA Images)


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