The Government is on a collision course with public sector workers including nurses and teachers after announcing pay rises which were attacked as a real-terms wage cut.
Unions had called for the pay increase to reflect the current cost of living crisis, with inflation rising at its fastest rate for 40 years - however, prior to the announcement ministers hinted that may not be the case, meaning inflation could be pushed even higher.
Health unions said the announcement amounts to a real terms pay cut.
As it stands, the current UK inflation rate is 9.1%, however the Bank of England has predicted that it could reach more than 11% later in the year.
This is what you need to know.
Which workers are affected by the public sector pay rise?
The public sector includes a huge number of workers, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimating that the sector employs 5.7 million people in the UK.
In short, the public sector is responsible for providing all public services in the UK, such as:
- Emergency services
- Refuse collection
- Social care
The pay increase will affect one in four public servants, with Downing Street providing a list of the professions for which public sector pay awards will be reported on Tuesday.
- School teachers
- Health workers on the Agenda for Change contract (including nurses, paramedics and midwives)
- Police officers
- The armed forces
- Prison officers
- NHS very senior managers
- The judiciary
- Senior civil servants
- Senior military
- Crime commissioners
How much are the pay rises?
This is how much the different sectors are set to receive in the agreed upon pay awards as announced by the Government.
The Government said it had accepted recommendations from the independent NHS pay review bodies in full, adding that the pay rise recognises the contribution of NHS staff while balancing the need to protect taxpayers, manage public spending and not drive up inflation.
All NHS staff under the remit of thsi year’s pay review will receive a pay increase, with over one million staff under the Agenda for Change contract, including nurses, paramedics and midwives, will benefit from a pay rise of at least £1,400 this year backdated to April 2022.
The lowest earners, such as porters and cleaners, will see a 9.3% increase in their basic pay this year, compared to last year, said the Department for Health.
The average basic pay for nurses will increase from around £35,600 as of March 2022 to around £37,000 and the basic pay for newly qualified nurses will increase by 5.5%, from £25,655 last year to £27,055.
According to the Department of Health, the average nurse’s salary has increased from £32,385 in 2018/19 to £37,000 in 2022/23, following this latest pay rise.
Dentists and doctors within the Doctors and Dentists’ Remuneration Body (DDRB) remit this year will receive a 4.5% pay rise.
Across the country, teachers will see an increase of between 5% and 8.9% from September this year, after the Government fully accepted pay recommendations from the independent School Teachers’ Review Body for the next academic year.
The starting salary for teachers based outside of London will increase by 8.9%, with salaries reaching £28,000 in the 2022/23 academic year.
Those in the early stages of their careers will also see increases ranging from 5% to 8% depending on experience.
Pay for experienced teachers who have been in the profession for more than five years will rise by 5% in the next academic year.
The rise is equivalent to an increase of almost £2,100 on the average salary of £42,400 this year.
The Home Office announced that police officers will receive a pay award of £1,900 from 1 September 2022, which is equivalent to a 5% increase.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I am pleased to be able to accept the pay review body recommendations in full so that all police officers see a £1,900 salary uplift.
“It is right that we recognise the extraordinary work of our officers who day in, day out, work tirelessly to keep our streets, communities and country safe.”
Those employed within the armed forces, including the Army, Navy and Air Force, will receive an extra 3.75% up to the rank of one star.
Officers ranked two or and above will get 3.5%.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This pay award supports wider recruitment and retention and addresses the requirements of smaller but highly skilled Armed Forces whilst recognising affordability.”
Justice Secretary Domic Raab announced that all prison staff will receive a pay increase of at least 4%, which is below inflation.
Explaining why, Raab said: “Pay awards this year strike a careful balance between recognising the vital importance of public sector workers, whilst delivering value for the taxpayer, not increasing the country’s debt further, and being careful not to drive even higher prices in the future."
Prior to the announcement of the pay awards, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps argued that the public sector pay cannot rise with inflation because it could erode savings and other workers’ incomes.
When asked about suggestions that pay rises for public sector workers could be capped at around 5%, well below inflation, he told LBC radio: “One thing we don’t want to do is allow inflation to run out of control.
“When that happens you get into a vicious circle where it erodes people’s incomes, it erodes people’s savings.
“This is a spike going through the system caused by Putin’s war in Ukraine and the big upset that’s had to, for example, fuel supplies.
“It’s very important that we don’t chase that inflation, otherwise we’ll be permanently poorer, and that’s why the plan which gets us back on track as quickly as possible is important – and pay rises will need to reflect that.”
What have unions said about the pay rise?
This is what various unions said about the awards, following the announcement of the pay awards.
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Ministers seem intent on running down the NHS, showing scant regard for the millions of people languishing on waiting lists for tests and treatment.
“Rather than save the NHS with proper investment in staff and services, those vying to be the next prime minister want to keep back the cash for pre-election tax cuts.
“Fed-up staff might well now decide to take the matter into their own hands.
“If there is to be a dispute in the NHS, ministers will have no one to blame but themselves.”
Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton added: “This is nowhere near what’s needed to save the NHS.
“Demoralised and depleted health workers needed to know that ministers are serious about solving the staffing crisis and investing in the future. The way to do that was through a significant pay award.
“With the pandemic barely behind us and the growing cost-of-living catastrophe, NHS staff, their bank accounts and health services are all running on empty.
“The Government’s shown it’s prepared to sit by and watch waiting lists grow, ambulance call times lengthen and patient suffering increase.
“Many will be seriously considering industrial action after this pitiful increase and a majority of the public will be behind them.
”Ministers can’t continue to allow wages to fall and expect staff still to be there. The simple formula for recruiting and retaining enough staff to tackle the treatment backlog and avoiding a damaging dispute is to ensure NHS workers have a decent pay rise. This isn’t it.”
Laurence Turner, of the GMB, said: “An offer below inflation is a cut by another name. Recruitment and retention problems are now severe across the public sector and ministers are failing to invest in the services that the economic recovery needs.
“Real NHS wages have fallen by 15% since 2010 and workers are risking their lives to protect patients. Key workers have been driven to loans and food banks to make ends meet – they deserve so much better than this.
“GMB will now ballot our members on the offer, but there should be no doubt – everyone has their breaking point, and without a fundamental change we will not be able to deliver the public services that the country needs.”
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The Government promised rewards for the dedication of the public sector workforce during the pandemic. What they have delivered instead, in real terms, is a kick in the teeth.
“The so-called wage offer amounts to a massive national pay cut. We expected the inevitable betrayal, but the scale of it is an affront.
“During the pandemic, public sector workers were correctly lauded as heroes. They were sent out to deal with the pandemic and did so despite the imminent dangers they faced. Now they are being asked to pay for the crisis with this national pay cut.”
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Assistant director at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Elaine Sparkes said: “NHS workers have made it clear that a pay award like this is nowhere near enough in the current climate, being substantially less than the current and predicted level of inflation.
“We’ve told the Government that – as have tens of thousands of people who took to the streets last month demanding a fair deal for workers.
“But still it presses on with an award that will cut the real value of take home pay for health staff and potentially put patient care at risk as the workforce crisis in the NHS deepens.
“Health unions will now consult members on what action they wish to take to ensure the extraordinary efforts of NHS staff are fairly rewarded.”
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said: “We welcome an increase in pay for hardworking and overstretched NHS staff beyond the 3% uplift originally budgeted for.
“However, NHS and public health leaders cannot be put into the impossible position of having to choose which services they will cut back on in order to fund the additional rise.
“NHS employers have only been allocated enough money to award staff a 3% rise, so unless the extra increase is funded by the Treasury, very worryingly this will have to be drawn from existing budgets and will mean an estimated unplanned £1.8 billion shortfall.”
NASUWT teachers union
Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said: “If the Government hopes that teachers’ anger will dissipate over the course of the summer break, they are wrong.
“A pay award that is below inflation will be yet another pay cut for hardworking teachers.
“The Government has deliberately withheld the pay review body’s report until the very end of the school term, demonstrating once again their contempt for the profession.
“Teachers have been badly let down by this Government for more than a decade, and only a commitment to a programme of pay restoration for teachers can win the trust, confidence and morale of the profession.”
Public and Commercial Services union
The union’s general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It’s an outrage that millions of our public sector colleagues have been told to accept half the rate of inflation, and it puts into further shocking focus the fact our members, the Government’s own workforce, are being told to accept even less.
“Brave workers in a number of unions, including within PCS, are already taking action over intolerable pay and our members will be balloted to join them in the autumn.
“We’ll be talking to our colleagues in other unions about organising co-ordinated national strike action.”
Royal College of Nursing
General secretary Pat Cullen, said: “This is a grave misstep by ministers. With this low award, the Government is misjudging the mood of nursing staff and the public too.
“There are tens of thousands of unfilled nursing jobs and today ministers have taken the NHS even further from safe patient care.
“Living costs are rising and yet they have enforced another real-terms pay cut on nursing staff. It will push more nurses and nursing support workers out of the profession.
“Our members will vote and tell us what they want to do next. We are grateful for the growing public support, including over strike action.”
FDA assistant general secretary Lucille Thirlby said: “The Government has yet again decided to treat civil service leaders, its own employees, with contempt, by setting them apart from other senior public sector workers.
“A 2% pay increase is, in fact, a significant pay cut, and it is an extraordinary decision when you consider that other public sector leaders, who civil servants work alongside, will receive increases of between 3 and 4.5%.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Our amazing NHS workers put their lives on the line to get us through the pandemic.
“This is no way to repay that service.
“This below-inflation award will hit morale at a time when staff are leaving in droves and staff shortages are crippling vital services.”
“NHS workers have already endured a brutal decade of pay cuts and freezes.
“Ministers should be giving nurses and other NHS staff the fair pay rise they have earned – not driving them towards foodbanks.
“This is a Government that is happy for City bonuses to go through the roof but it won’t lift a finger to help ordinary workers make a decent living.”