Nearly 900,000 public sector workers are to receive a pay rise, chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced, after months of political pressure to reward key workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Doctors, dentists, teachers, police officers and soldiers are among those who will see extra money in their wage packets, as the government chooses to honour the recommendations of independent pay review bodies.
Teachers and doctors will see the largest above-inflation increases, at 3.1 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively, according to the Treasury. But NHS staff in other roles were left out of the announcement.
More than 300 NHS workers have died in England alone after contracting coronavirus, many doing so while caring for patients, while teachers have continued looking after the children of key workers throughout the lockdown.
“These past months have underlined what we always knew, that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them,” Mr Sunak said in a statement.
“It’s right therefore that we follow the recommendations of the independent pay bodies with this set of real-terms pay rises.”
Police, prison officers and National Crime Agency staff will benefit from a 2.5 per cent pay rise, while the armed forces will receive a 2 per cent uplift. Members of the judiciary and senior civil servants will also see their pay topped up by 2 per cent.
The pay awards for the armed forces, prison officers, senior civil servants and NHS staff will be backdated to April, whereas the pay rise for police and teachers starts in September due to those professions operating on a different pay schedule running from September to August.
However, unions said the pay rises – which ministers have failed to commit to for months amid widespread public outcry – paled in comparison to the real-term cuts seen over a decade of austerity.
They also highlighted that swathes of the public sector, including social care workers – who have also risked their lives during the crisis – would receive no such increase.
“These rises are welcome, but there’s still a long way to go to restore pay after a decade of real terms cuts,” said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
“Many public sector workers, like job centre staff and local government workers, aren’t getting these rises. They deserve a decent pay settlement too.
“And the government should urgently announce a pay rise for social care workers, who put their lives on the line to care for others during this pandemic.”
And among NHS staff, only doctors and dentists were set to benefit from Tuesday’s announcement.
The Treasury pointed to the three-year Agenda for Change pay deal agreed in 2017, which it said saw starting pay for newly qualified nurses increase by 12 per cent, citing an average rise of 4.4 per cent for nurses outside of the most senior roles.
The Royal College of Nurses has calculated that the average salary for a nurse has fallen by 8 per cent in real terms since the Tories were elected in 2010.
A Treasury spokesperson confirmed to The Independent that there were currently no plans to offer a pay rise to non-medics within the NHS, such as porters and cleaning staff.
On the 72nd anniversary of the NHS in June, health secretary Matt Hancock insisted that “now is not the moment to enter into a pay negotiation” for NHS nurses.
MPs enjoyed a 3.1 per cent pay rise agreed in March, bringing their basic salary to above £81,000, as well as an increase in expenses to cover the costs of staffing their parliamentary offices.