Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament today that the 1% public sector pay cap has been officially scrapped.
Mr Hunt told Parliament today; "I can give you good news. The pay cap has been scrapped", but refused to reveal how any pay award would be funded. However, unions say that any pay award must be fully funded.
The Health Secretary said the cap had been necessary to fund 11,300 more doctors and a similar number of extra nurses on the wards, but admitted that it is no longer sustainable.
Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, previously stated there would be more "flexibility" over the pay of public sector workers but was criticised by the RCN for not explicitly scrapping the cap.
Healthcare unions, including The Royal College of Nursing and Unison, are calling for a fully-funded 3.9% pay rise for a million NHS staff.
Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said:
“Jeremy Hunt has listened to the tens of thousands of nurses who made their feelings clear and we thank him for today’s categorical statement.
“He has put beyond all doubt that the pay cap is scrapped after a summer-long campaign by the RCN. Our members in every corner of the UK fought hard and can be proud of this achievement.
“The cap held pay below inflation and gave nurses year-on-year pay cuts. With a staffing crisis building, the Government is right to lift it.
“The next pay offer must not come in below inflation and Ministers cannot ask the NHS to make other cuts to pay for it – services must be given extra funding to cover the cost.”
Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said;
"Scrapping the pay cap is the right thing to do, but it's only meaningful if workers receive proper pay rises. The government’s announcement looks worryingly like a smoke and mirrors move, with talk of 'productivity improvements'. NHS staff, patients and services shouldn't be made to suffer to fund a pay rise.
"And the government can't cherry pick lifting the cap for health workers. This cap has to be scrapped, and replaced with decent pay rises, for all public service workers."
Unions have been preparing to ballot members for industrial action if the scrap was not lifted by the time of the autumn budget on Wednesday 22 November.