The payment is to thank health and social care workers for their hard work.
Northern Ireland is to join Scotland in giving all health and social care workers a one-off reward “in special recognition” of their work during the pandemic.
Health Minister Robin Swann said the payment would be subject to approval from the Department of Finance. The minister said; “There are no words to properly convey what health workers have done for us, we will never be able to repay that debt.”
Specifics of the arrangement, including eligibility criteria, are yet to be released. Only a few months ago healthcare workers in NI were at odds with the government over pay parity with their counterparts around the UK.
Scotland’s First Minister announced a similar “no strings attached” payment in November.
In the announcement, Ms. Stugeon said; “So I can announce today that, on behalf of us all, the Scottish Government will give every full-time NHS and adult social care worker £500 as a one-off thank you payment for their extraordinary service in this toughest of years.”
Proud and grateful.
Pressure now mounts on Westminster to introduce a similar payment for workers in England and Wales.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The social care workforce more than ever demonstrates unwavering compassion and dedication. We are proud of and immensely grateful to them.
“The vast majority of care workers are employed by private sector providers who ultimately set their pay and remuneration, independent of central government.
“Local authorities work with care providers to determine a fair rate of pay based on local market conditions.
“This month, the Government announced an additional £120 million to support the social care workforce to provide additional care staff where shortages arise, support administrative tasks so experienced and skilled staff can focus on providing care, and help existing staff to take on additional hours if they wish with overtime payments or by covering childcare costs.”