Today’s budget ‘a worrying sign’ of a ‘very low pay award’ for NHS staff, says RCN

Unions have been calling upon the government since June last year to provide adequate pay rather than empty thanks.

Matt Bodell
3 March 2021
Rishi Sunak

Unions are calling for an immediate rise of between 12.5% and 15%.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that today’s budget is a “worrying sign” that NHS workers will face a “very low pay award this summer”.

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Today’s budget seemingly confirmed rumours that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will not make a decision on an NHS pay rise until after the independent Pay Review Body’s report arrive on his desk in May.

Unions have been calling upon the government since June last year to provide adequate pay rather than empty thanks by giving staff an immediate rise of between 12.5% and 15%.

But during today’s Budget, Mr. Sunak failed to set aside the money required for the NHS to provide its staff with the restorative rise.

Earlier this week a Tory MP called union’s pay demands unrealistic and “one for the fairies”. 

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Mr. Sunak did announce that the Universal Credit uplift will continue for another six months and working Tax Credit claimants will be given more support with a one-off payment of £500.

No road to recovery for nurses.

Figures suggest that over the past decade the most experienced front-line nurses are £6144 per year worse off due to wages failing to keep up with the rate of inflation (RPI).

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This Budget is intended to show the path to recovery – but nursing staff won’t see one here.

“That there was no substantive mention of health and care services is incredulous in the middle of a pandemic.”

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She continued; “The fact the Chancellor has not set aside money in this Budget for a significant pay rise for nursing staff is a worrying sign of his intention to give a very low pay award this summer.

“Nursing staff are worse off than they were a decade ago. If that pay rise is low, it won’t be enough to stave off a potential exodus of exhausted NHS nursing staff at the end of the pandemic – and NHS services will find safe patient care even harder to deliver.”

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