The government today braced for a heated summer and autumn battle with trade unions as they proposed a below-inflation pay rise for two million public sector workers, including doctors and nurses.
More than one million NHS staff, including nurses, midwives and paramedics, have been offered the worst-paid extra £1,400 – up to 9.3 per cent – ministers said.
But doctors and dentists are preparing for industrial action after the proposal of 4.5 percent increase. NHS doctors and GPs are pushing for a 30 per cent pay rise over five years.
Additionally, police officers are offered an average 5 percent salary increase, the same as teachers.
Consumer price inflation (CPI) is running at a 40-year high of 9.1 percent, and could reach 11 percent this year.
Unions are demanding wage increases that at least keep track of inflation, saying that anything less is, in effect, a pay cut.
But they have warned that a big increase could exacerbate economic problems and leave the UK ‘forever poorer’.
Britons saw their pay packets lag far behind inflation despite a slight rise in earnings, official figures showed.
State employees saw only 1.5 per cent growth in the quarter to Baisakh compared to 7.2 per cent in the private sector.
Sarah Gorton, head of health at Unison, said: ‘This is nowhere near what is needed to save the NHS… Many will seriously consider industrial action after this pathetic increase and the majority of the public will be behind them.’
And the British Dental Association said the pay rise for dentists was ‘outrageous’, warning it would accelerate the workforce crisis facing NHS dentistry across the UK.
But Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘We want a fair deal for staff.
‘Too high inflation-driven settlements will have a worse impact on pay packets in the long term than the current proportionate and balanced increase, and it is welcome that the pay review bodies agree with this view.’
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘Too high inflation-driven settlements will have a worse impact on pay packets than proportionate and balanced increases in the long term’.
Consumer price inflation (CPI) is running at a 40-year high of 9.1 percent, and could reach 11 percent this year. But the salary review body, which covers doctors, nurses, soldiers, police and other professions, is expected to recommend a settlement of three to five percent.
The Government has said it fully accepts recommendations from the independent NHS pay review bodies, adding that pay rises recognize the contribution of NHS staff while balancing the need to protect taxpayers, manage public spending and keep inflation at bay.
The lowest earners, such as porters and cleaners, will see their basic pay rise by 9.3 percent this year compared to last year, the Department of Health said.
Average basic pay for nurses will rise from around £35,600 to £37,000 by March 2022 and basic pay for newly qualified nurses will rise by 5.5 per cent, from £25,655 last year to £27,055.
For teachers, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘Given this very weak pay offer, we will be looking to consult with our members in the autumn. It will be the largest ballot of teachers in a generation.
‘Teachers don’t want to strike – they want to be in the classroom teaching our students. But we can’t stand by the biggest real-terms drop in teacher pay this century. This pay proposal does nothing to recruit, retain and value teachers and protect our children’s education.’
The government has said that this is the highest salary increase in the public sector in nearly 20 years.
Speaking to LBC Radio this morning, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘One thing we don’t want to do is let inflation get out of control. When that happens, you get into a vicious circle where it reduces people’s income, it reduces people’s savings.
‘It’s a spike going through the system caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine and, for example, a huge disruption in fuel supplies.
‘It’s very important that we don’t chase that inflation, otherwise we’ll be permanently poorer, and that’s why a plan to get us back on track as quickly as possible is vital – and pay rises need to reflect that.’
Tonight, the chancellor, Nadim Zahavi, will argue for a halt to wage increases to prevent today’s demands from being pushed further, adding a huge burden to the cost of living.
The proposed settlements are well below the projected level of inflation, which is expected to reach 11 percent this fall.
The plans have put ministers on a collision course with major public sector unions, who have warned of an autumn of industrial action.
Only newly qualified teachers are expected to get a more significant rise as part of the Tory manifesto to increase starting pay to £30,000 by the time of the next election.
Peter Crooks, vice-chairman of the British Dental Association, said: ‘For a decade we have seen the case for “pay restraint” and “efficiency savings” amounting to some of the deepest pay cuts in the public sector.
‘This ridiculous proposal will only give dentists more reasons to reconsider their future in the NHS, and millions of patients will pay the price.’
A Whitehall source admitted that the pay fix would be difficult for many, but said the government needed to bring inflation under control.
‘Pay review bodies are independent, but they have to consider what is cheaper,’ the source said.
You will see that most of the settlements are in the range of three to five percent. It is going to be difficult for the people. But we have to manage things responsibly, and the alternative – let inflation run out of control – is more damaging to people’s incomes in the long run.’
Public sector workers and Union members gather outside the Houses of Parliament in central London in 2014
Pay packets suffer a RECORD decline of 2.8% as inflation runs rampant
Pay packets are shrinking at a record pace as inflation rages on – but the jobs market still looks strong.
Official data showed gross earnings rose at an annual rate of 6.2 percent in the May quarter, while regular wages, excluding bonuses, rose 4.3 percent.
However, both measures were falling on an inflation-adjusted basis – total wages contracted by 1.9 per cent and regular wages fell by 3.7 per cent compared to headline CPI in the three months. The latter was the worst since data began to be collected in 2001.
Using the ONS’s preferred measure of CPI, including housing costs, total wages fell by 0.9 per cent and regular wages by 2.8 per cent – again the biggest falls on record.
Despite the alarming squeeze on living standards, the labor market appears to be holding steady with unemployment down 0.1 percentage point from the previous quarter to 3.8 percent.
The number of employees on payrolls rose 31,000 in June to another high of 29.6 million. And vacancies remained near their peak in the June three months at just under 1.3 million.
Chancellor Nadim Zahwi welcomed the jobs data but said he was ‘keenly aware’ of the pressure on household finances.
Today’s pay review will cover doctors and dentists, nurses, teachers, prison officers, members of the armed forces, judges and senior civil servants.
Nadim Zahawi, the chancellor, will argue for pay controls today, the Telegraph said.
The newspaper said Mr Zahavi would say: ‘This means better public finances to avoid further exacerbating demand, providing help to households as they face the worst price rises in a generation.
‘And, where we can, to reduce supply constraints as an underlying cause of high inflation. The country should feel confident that we can and will bring inflation under control.
But Pat Cullen, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said nurses seeking a 16 per cent rise would ‘consider industrial action if ministers don’t budge’, according to the Daily Mail.
She said: ‘There are thousands of nursing jobs out there and unfair treatment will drive many out of the profession.’
Similarly, the Royal Mail Managers of the United Union have withdrawn their three-day strike that started tomorrow. The union’s 2,400 Royal Mail members accepted the offers on jobs, pay and conditions by a vote of almost two to one. However, United said that the dispute is not over.
The UK’s biggest union, which has more than 1.3 million members and provides public services across education, local government, the NHS, the police service and energy, has also signaled it could mean staff are out of their jobs.
Sarah Gorton, head of health at Unison and chair of the group of NHS unions, said: ‘Healthcare workers struggling to pay their bills are waiting months to be told they should get their refund in the spring.
‘The public clearly support above-inflation pay rises in the NHS. People say they will also go after NHS staff if they opt for strike action if decent rises are not forthcoming. Instead of stumbling into a controversy that no one wants to see, ministers should act now.
‘The government must find the money it needs or risk worsening the current staffing crisis and longer waits for tests and treatment for patients.’
Elaine Sparks, assistant director of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and secretary of the NHS Group of Unions, said: ‘There is a workforce crisis in the NHS, and it is unthinkable that the Government will make it worse through pay rises that fall below inflation.
‘This will put more stress on those who remain, leaving more staff and increasing waiting times for patients.
‘Government should step in with above-inflation pay rises that help recruit, and most importantly, the staff patients so desperately need.’
Whitehall sources said the pay review body, which covers doctors, nurses, soldiers, police and other professions, would recommend a three to five per cent settlement.