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Wednesday, 09 March 2016

Public sector pay rise of 1% denounced as 'miserly' amid widespread criticism

Written by The Press Association

The Government has come under attack after announcing a "miserly" 1% pay rise for public sector workers, including doctors and nurses.

The awards, following recommendations from pay review bodies (PRB), cover more than one million employees, including staff in the armed forces.

NHS staff, doctors and dentists, and members of the armed forces will receive an average of 1%, while Prison Service staff will get 1.36% as an "exceptional award" for "highly ambitious" prison reforms.

Health union leaders said 1% was "way below" what workers needed after falling behind for years because of the Government's public sector pay policy.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands said: "Our armed forces, NHS workers and prison officers do a brilliant job serving our country but with an increasingly turbulent global economy, pay restraint continues to be a key part of our plan to finish fixing the public finances.

"The independent OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) estimates that 200,000 public sector jobs have been protected thanks to our average 1% pay policy so we can continue to deliver crucial public services."

Unison's head of health Christina McAnea said: "Government pay policies since 2010 have seen most health staff lose thousands in real terms - nurses are down more than £4,700 since then.

"This 1% pay rise falls way below what health workers need and deserve after years of pay cuts, especially as changes to national insurance and pension contributions will absorb much of this miserly increase.

"It's no surprise that many desperately hard-up health workers are leaving the NHS to come back as agency staff where they can earn more money."

Jon Skewes of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "A 1% award does not make up for the shortfall in the pay awards over previous years, when the Government have ignored the PRB recommendations, and which leaves the average NHS worker over £4,000 worse off every year than they were a few years ago."

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: "Employers in the NHS will welcome the acceptance by the Government of the clear recommendations of the NHS Pay Review Bodies.

"At the same time they recognise that the continued restraint of pay increases across the public sector is of concern to their staff and also restricts the ability to agree reform of non-medical contracts with staff representatives."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "It is thanks to the care, quality and dedication of NHS staff we are beginning to deliver a safer seven-day NHS for patients."

Junior doctors, who will stage a 48-hour strike from Wednesday over their contracts row with the Government, will receive the 1% increase from April.

The Department of Health said as they move to the new contract in August, the award has already been added to new pay progression points.

Janet Davies, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Nurses have been telling the Government that they are struggling to make ends meet, and are asking themselves if they can afford to continue nursing. Their warnings have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears.

"More and more nurses and health care assistants are being forced to consider their future in the profession that they love."

Pete Finch, of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: "Ongoing restraint leading effectively to a real-terms cut in take-home pay is unacceptable and unsustainable."

Health workers will be consulted on the pay rise by their unions.

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