Public sector pay confirmed by government

Millions of public sector workers will still receive annual pay rises of more than 2% until 2011, the government has confirmed.

NHS staff and police officers have been told their pay awards will be met in full, despite concerns yesterday that the fall in the Retail Prices Index – used to set public sector pay – to zero for the first time in 49 years, could leave many facing pay freezes.

Under the agreement, nurses will continue receiving pay rises under “long-term deals”, which will lead to a 2.4% increase in 2009-10, with a further 2.25% boost the following year. It is expected that teachers will get an additional 2.3% both this year and next, while police officers’ pay will increase by 2.6% in 2009-10, with another 2.55% rise in 2010-11.

The pay deals were agreed before the recession set in, but the government now faces mounting calls from the private sector – where many have been forced to introduce pay freezes – for the awards to be re-evaluated.

British Chambers of Commerce director-general David Frost told the Daily Mail: “Across the country I am hearing of more and more businesses left with no choice but to freeze and cut wages.

“It is unacceptable that the public sector should not share any of this pain. There is already an apartheid between public and private sectors on pensions. We cannot have apartheid on pay too.”

Speaking to the BBC, chief secretary to the Treasury, Yvette Cooper, defended the deals as a “responsible approach”.

She said: “We continue to think three-year deals are a good thing, but individual agreements are obviously for individual departments to put forward.”

Senior civil servants are continuing to push for a 3% pay rise deal through their union, First Division Association, in a bid to bring their salaries in line with equivalent private sector posts. A decision on this pay deal is expected next week.

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