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Government accused of ‘PR stunt’ over public sector pay rises

The Government says a million workers in the public sector will get the biggest pay rise in almost a decade.

The Government has been accused of a “PR stunt” after announcing that a million public sector workers are to get the biggest pay rise in almost a decade.

Ministers hailed rises of 2.9% for the armed forces, 2.75% for prison officers and 3.5% for teachers, in confirmation that the lengthy cap on pay for millions of public sector workers was over.

But unions and opposition parties warned of job losses and cuts to services to pay for the increases, complaining they were not being fully funded by the Treasury.

Ministers said members of the armed forces will receive an increase of 2.9% (2% consolidated, 0.9% non-consolidated), with Tuesday’s award worth £680 in pay to an average soldier, plus a one-off payment of £300.

The teachers’ award means the main pay range will increase by 3.5% (2% to upper pay range and 1.5% to leadership). Schools will determine how it is set.

All prison officers will get at least a 2.75% (2% consolidated, 0.75% non-consolidated) increase this year, with many getting higher awards.

A police award of 2% will mean average pay for a constable will now be more than £38,600 a year.

A pay increase of at least 2% will be given to junior doctors, specialist doctors, GPs and dentists. Consultants will also get a pay rise of at least £1,150.

Ministers said teachers are in line for a pay rise of up to £1,366 a year.

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Education Secretary Damian Hinds said there will be an investment of £508m to fully fund the teachers’ pay rise (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Peter Dowd, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury said the announcement was a “mendacious PR stunt”, adding: “It shamefully takes money away from our schools, hospitals, prisons, police services and armed forces.”

Unison’s assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Behind the good news headlines, the Government is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. Without extra money from the Treasury to fund these pay increases, services and jobs somewhere will have to be cut.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said there will be an investment of £508 million to fully fund the deal.

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(PA Graphics)

He said: “There are no great schools without great teachers and I want to us to recruit and retain brilliant teachers who are fairly rewarded for the vital work they do.

“Today we are announcing a fully funded pay rise of up to 3.5% – or between £800 and £1,366 – for classroom teachers on the main pay range, 2% for those on the upper pay range and 1.5% for those in leadership positions.

This will mean that teaching continues to be a competitively rewarded career Damian Hinds

“This will mean that teaching continues to be a competitively rewarded career, and I will continue to work with the profession, Ofsted and the unions on issues like excessive workload, professional development and flexible working, to make sure teaching remains an attractive, fulfilling profession.”

Schools will continue to determine how their staff are paid, but the increases will be funded with a new teachers’ pay grant, worth £187 million in 2018/19 and £321 million in 2019/20 from the existing Department for Education budget, paid to all schools on top of their core budgets from the National Funding Formula, said the Government.

In cash terms, teachers could receive a boost of between £1,184 and £1,366 to their salary, while salaries for new teachers will increase by between £802 and £1,003.

Prospect union deputy general secretary Garry Graham said: “The Government have put civil servants firmly at the back of the queue on public sector pay.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the pay rises for doctors and dentists recognised their “value and dedication” and took into account affordability and the prioritising of patient care.

From October, a consultant starting work in 2013 will have seen a 16.5% increase in their basic pay, rising to a salary of £87,665 from £75,249, it was announced.

Ministers said the pay rises were worth between £1,150 and £1,550 for consultants, between £1,140 and £2,120 for speciality doctors, between £1,600 and £2,630 for associate specialists, between £532 and £924 for junior doctors, and around £1,052 for a salaried GP with a median taxable income of £52,600.

The BMA said it was “truly astonishing” that the Government had “ignored” recommendations from the independent pay review body.

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(PA Graphics)

Dr Anthea Mowat of the BMA said: “Just last week the new Secretary of State talked about how ‘heart-breaking’ it was to see how ‘under-valued’ NHS staff feel.

“Considering those words, doctors in England will rightly feel both anger and disappointment that sentiment has not been matched with action.

“Since 2008, doctors have experienced the largest drop in earnings of all professions subject to pay review bodies, with consultants seeing a 19% fall in pay, junior doctors 21% and GPs 20%.

“The effective pay uplift this year for some doctors will be as little as 0.75%, which will be widely seen as derisory.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “School leaders will have mixed views about this announcement. They desperately want to reward and retain their valued staff, and they will be relieved that the DfE will make an additional contribution to the pay award, as school budgets are already at breaking point.”

IFS research fellow Luke Sibieta said: “Today’s announcement of a 3.5% pay rise for teachers on the main pay range will help with recruitment and retention for teachers early in their career, which has emerged as a serious problem in recent years.

“However, about 60% of teachers will receive below-inflation awards of 2%, or in the case of school leaders, 1.5%.”

Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, said: “It’s now beyond doubt that the majority of teachers are facing yet another real-terms pay cut. This Conservative Government is simply refusing to give our teachers the pay rise that they deserve.”

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