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Unions oppose regional pay plan

Wednesday 24th October 2018
Unions have spoken out after reports emerged that the government is contemplating a plan to base nursing pay rises on regional and performance factors.
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Health unions have criticised the idea of linking public sector pay rises to regional pay levels, which some reports suggest will be a feature of next week's Budget.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the prospect has been raised by chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss, who told the cabinet that public sector pay is more competitive with the private sector in the regions than it is in London and the south-east. 

If this translates into policy, it could mean lower pay rises for nurses and other NHS in the regions.

However, critics have argued this would simply entrench regional pay divides and noted that London weighting already exists to provide extra to those dealing with higher living costs in the capital.

Jon Skewes, the director for external relations at the Royal College of Midwives, said: "Regional pay is a discredited cul-de-sac and we urge the government not to go down it. It hurts the NHS, which faces a huge crisis with a shortage of midwives and other clinical staff.

"Regional pay would simply make that worse and would see regions already struggling to recruit facing even more problems in getting the staff they need."

Further criticism came from assistant general secretary of Unite, Gail Cartmail. She called the idea of regionalised pay "blatantly unfair", and said it ignored the "real challenge" involved in recruiting and retaining staff. 
Ms Truss had also reportedly suggested that pay should be performance-linked. This was also criticised by Ms Cartmail, who argued it had proven calamitous in the banking and finance sector in the past and would have a negative impact across the public sector as well. 

The government announced last year that the one per cent pay rise cap on public sector workers was to end, but details of how this will work out in practice for nurses and other NHS staff remain to be seen. 

Chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver his Budget next Monday (October 29th), the first after prime minister Theresa May declared an end to austerity. 

Written by James Puckle

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