Almost 900,000 public sector workers in UK to receive above-inflation pay rise

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By David Walsh
A district nurse changes the dressings on the legs of 86-year-old Margaret Ashton during a home visit.
A district nurse changes the dressings on the legs of 86-year-old Margaret Ashton during a home visit.   -  Copyright  Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via AP

Almost 900,000 public sector workers will be given an above-inflation pay rise, the UK Chancellor has announced.

Praising their efforts during the pandemic, Rishi Sunak said he recognised the "vital contribution" key workers in the public sector made as the country grappled to control the coronavirus outbreak.

“These past months have underlined what we always knew; that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them," he said.

“It’s right therefore that we follow the recommendations of the independent pay bodies with this set of real-terms pay rises.”

Doctors and teachers will be in line for the largest pay increases at 2.8 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.

Police, prison officers and National Crime Agency staff will see a wage rise of 2.5 per cent while the armed forces will receive an additional 2 per cent. Pay in the judiciary and senior levels of the civil service will also grow by 2 per cent.

The uplift in wages will only affect teachers in England, and police, prison officers and National Crime Agency workers in both England and Wales. Doctors, armed forces personnel, judges and senior civil servants across the UK will all benefit.

The government accepted the suggested pay rises recommended by independent pay review bodies but the funding will come from existing department budgets, according to the Treasury.

Due to different pay schedules, pay rises for teachers and police will take only effect in September while increases in other public sector professions will be backdated to April.

In a statement, Labour's Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds hailed the move as "good news" for public sector workers but noted wage freezes under consecutive Conservative governments had taken a toll.

"The Conservatives froze public sector pay for seven long years, and the rises they introduced after that failed to plug the gap," she said.

“A pay rise for our police, nurses and teachers now is good news, but for many frontline workers it still won’t make up for a decade of real-terms pay cuts.

“And many other public sector workers – including those working on the front line in social care – won’t get a pay rise out of this at all because the Tories haven’t made good on their promises to boost local authority funding," she added.

“That’s not fair – and it’s no way to reward those who’ve been at the forefront of fighting this pandemic.”

More than 300 NHS staff in England have died in service from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.