Public sector staff could miss out on pay rise, says Hands

25 Aug 15

Not every public sector worker can expect to receive the 1% pay increase pledged in the summer Budget, the chief secretary to the Treasury has revealed.

In a letter, sent on 19 August, to the chairs of the seven independent public sector pay review bodies, Greg Hands reiterated that the government would fund a 1% pay rise for public sector staff in each of the four years from 2016/17.

However, he added that the increases needed to be “applied in a targeted manner to support the delivery of public services, and to address recruitment and retention pressures”.

The letter went on: “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 also affirmed the government would continue to consider pay reforms, including a focus on progression pay.

The public sector trade union Unison reacted angrily to the chief secretary’s letter, with general secretary Dave Prentis calling the 1% pay pledge “smoke and mirrors”.

He said: “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.”

He highlighted the plight of NHS staff. “[They] will be bitterly disappointed to hear many of them may not even get an extra penny for five more years.”

Ongoing restraint to the public sector pay bill is expected to deliver £20bn in savings and help the government achieve its objective of delivering a surplus by 2019/20.

Hands’ letter was sent to Jerry Cope, chair of the NHS pay review body; Paul Curran (doctors and dentists); Peter Knight (prison services); David Lebrecht (police/National Crime Agency); Martin Read (senior salaries); Patricia Rice (school teachers); and John Steele (armed forces).

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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