Nurses will receive a pay rise next April, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said as he announced an end to a one-year public sector pay freeze.
Nurses will receive the wage boost alongside other public sector staff, Mr Sunak is expected to confirm in his budget tomorrow. Nurses and other NHS workers were spared from the freeze imposed last November because of their work fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Sunak said in a statement: ‘The economic impact and uncertainty of the virus meant we had to take the difficult decision to pause public sector pay. Along with our plan for jobs, this action helped us protect livelihoods at the height of the pandemic.
‘And now, with the economy firmly back on track, it’s right that nurses, teachers and all the other public sector workers who played their part during the pandemic see their wages rise.’
The size of the pay rise for nurses will depend on recommendations from the NHS Pay Review Body. This group suggested the controversial 3% pay increase for NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts for 2021/22, which unions have been campaigning against.
RCN chief executive Pat Cullen argued the further pay rise planned for nurses shows a ‘tacit acknowledgement from ministers they have underpaid nursing staff’.
She said: ‘The Treasury has a chance to show it is not only listening but matching rhetoric with money. With this announcement, Mr Sunak will raise the hopes of many. They and the public will be unforgiving if there’s disappointment in the small print.’
The RCN is continuing to fight the current 3% pay deal and is preparing to ask members in England next month if they would be willing to take industrial action against the ‘unacceptable’ award. It is instead campaigning for a 12.5% rise.
It has also launched an equivalent indicative ballot in Scotland on 12 October over the 4% pay rise in the country. And RCN Wales has lodged a formal trade dispute with the Welsh Government over its 3% pay award for nursing staff.