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Pay rise for almost 900,000 UK public sector workers

Kalila Sangster
·3-min read
Signs thanking key workers and the NHS are seen in South London as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Nearly 900,000 public sector workers will receive above-inflation pay rises to reflect their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: PA

Nearly 900,000 public sector workers, including those on frontline of tackling the coronavirus pandemic, will receive above inflation pay rises this year, the UK government announced on Tuesday.

Employees benefitting include doctors, the armed forces, teachers, police officers, the National Crime Agency staff, prison officers, dentists, the judiciary, senior civil servants and senior military personnel.

Teachers will receive the largest increase in pay at 3.1%, followed by doctors at 2.8%. The government said this recognises “their efforts on the frontline during the battle against COVID-19.”

Pay for police and prison officers will go up by 2.5%. This includes the 6,435 new police officers that joined the police force between November 2019 and March 2020, according to the government.

The armed forces will get a 2% pay rise. This comes as 16,340 new recruits join the UK Regular Armed Forces between April 2019 and March 2020 — an increase of 30.9% compared with the previous year.

READ MORE: UK incomes suffer biggest drop in half a century

Over 1 million NHS workers have already agreed a separate pay deal, known as the Agenda for Change. This sees the starting pay for a newly qualified nurse rising by over 12% since 2017/18, the government said, meaning nurses who are still moving up their pay structures will receive an average pay rise of 4.4% this year. There are 12,220 more nurses and health visitors working for the NHS this year compared with a year before.

The pay rises for each workforce were recommended by independent pay review bodies, and this year government accepted the headline recommended increases across the board.

Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “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.

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

The pay rises for the armed forces, prison officers, senior civil servants and NHS staff will be backdated to April this year, whereas police officers and teachers will see their pay increase from September.

Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the pay rise was “good news” but claimed it would not make up for a “decade of real-terms pay cuts” for frontline workers.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called for social care workers to join the ranks of those being offered a pay rise.

“These rises are welcome, but there’s still a long way to go to restore pay after a decade of real terms cuts,” she said.

“Many public sector workers, like job centre staff and local government workers, aren’t getting these rises. They deserve a decent pay settlement too.

“And the government should urgently announce a pay rise for social care workers, who put their lives on the line to care for others during this pandemic.”

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea called for “more resources for local authorities” so council staff and social care workers could also be entitled to a “decent wage increase”.