Unions have condemned pay rises for public sector workers as “derisory” after seven years of a 1% cap on salary increases.
The Treasury announced on Tuesday that about 1 million public sector workers would benefit from the biggest pay rise in almost 10 years.
It includes 2.9% for the armed forces and at least 2.75% for prison officers, although the consolidated figures – without bonuses, perks, etc – are lower. Teachers will get up to 3.5% for teachers while junior doctors, specialist doctors, GPs and dentists will get at least 2%.
The Police Federation said officers’ pay had fallen by about 18% since 2009-10 and the rise would be just £2.50 a week extra for a constable at the start of their career.
The federation’s vice-chair, ChéDonald, said: “Today’s derisory announcement flies in the face of a lot of hot air spouted by the Home Office and government over the past few months. In reality this pay award is an insult to those who serve day in, day out.”
The British Medical Association (BMA) expressed similar sentiments.
Dr Anthea Mowat, chair of the BMA representative body, said: “Since 2008, doctors have experienced the largest drop in earnings of all professions subject to pay review bodies. The effective pay uplift this year for some doctors will be as little as 0.75%, which will be widely seen as derisory.”
There are also concerns over cuts to services or jobs to fund the pay rises because no extra money has been made available by the Treasury.
NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said that while staff deserved an increase, its members would be left to foot the bill “with a real risk that that could impact on the quality of care”.
Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary at the Unison union, said: “Behind the good news headlines, the government is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. Without extra money from the Treasury to fund these pay increases, services and jobs somewhere will have to be cut.”
Jeremy Corbyn was also critical, saying: “The reality is that by lifting the pay cap there’s going to be an increase that is below the rate of inflation and it’s going to be about 0.8% below it.”
The Labour leader also warned of potential cuts to public services but said his party would fund higher wages through economic growth and tax increases.
The 3.5% increase to teachers is restricted to the main pay range and below, meaning the benefits will be mainly felt by younger teachers. Older, more experienced teachers and those in leadership roles on the upper pay scale will get a 1.5% to 2% pay rise despite the independent School Teachers’ Review Body recommending a 3.5% across-the-board rise.
Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, said: “They have failed to recognise and reward the critical role performed by leadership teams. This will do little to retain valued and experienced senior teachers and leaders. Our members will feel let down by the government.”
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