Unions attack Budget for lack of action on pay cap

23 Nov 17

Bodies representing public sector workers have criticised the lack of action on the pay cap in the Budget yesterday.

Unions branded the mention of public sector pay in Philip Hammond’s speech yesterday as being “vague” and criticised it for being limited to possibly lifting the 1% pay cap for NHS staff.  

Vicky Johnson, president of the Association of Revenue and Customs for HMRC staff, said: “Vague talk of ending the 1% cap on public sector pay will not cut it with HMRC staff, the vast majority of whom are not covered by pay review bodies, and who have faced year-upon-year of real-terms pay cuts.”

Naomi Cooke, FDA assistant general secretary, asked why Hammond did not mention a pay hike for the civil service at a time of “unprecedented challenges”.

“There is widespread acceptance that there needs to be pay reform in the civil service, for all grades, yet the chancellor has again failed to meet the challenge,” she said.

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS union, described the absence of concrete proposals to end the public sector pay cap as an “abject failure”.

Unions and public sector workers had hoped the chancellor would budge on public sector pay after the government announced earlier this year that police and prison officers would get a pay rise above 1%.

Hammond told the Commons yesterday the health secretary had started discussions with health unions on “pay structure modernisation” to “improve recruitment and retention”.

“He [health secretary Jeremy Hunt] will submit evidence to the independent pay review body in due course,” he explained.

The chancellor also pledged to provide “additional funding for such a settlement” if the “talks bear fruit”. Although, there was no mention of how much the Treasury would put into this.

Criticism was also leveled at the government for failing to mention cash-strapped social care and the state of local government finance.

CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said: “The pressures on children’s and adults’ social care have been swept under the carpet and will continue to intensify, with knock-on effects on the NHS.”

He also raised concerns that the chancellor’s move to increase the national living wage from next April for over 25s will rise from £7.50 per hour to £7.83 per hour would put pressure on the sector.

Whiteman said: “We can also expect that the 4% increase in the national living wage, while welcome indeed for those workers, feed through to considerable extra pressure on the sector, as councils will have to pay significantly more for care workers.”

Jo Miller, president of Solace stated: “The Budget does little to address the crisis facing local services that are already stretched to breaking point after eight years of cuts to council funding.”

She said despite some positive announcements on housing, which will see HRA caps lifted for some councils, the Budget “falls short of providing certainty, stability and flexibility” for local government. 

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