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Bankers’ bonuses could pay 80,000 nurse salaries, MP claims

Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge made the comparison after reports that chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is considering scrapping EU-wide cap on bankers’ bonuses

Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge made the comparison after reports that chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is considering scrapping EU-wide cap on bankers’ bonuses

Bankers' bonuses in 2021 could have paid the salaries of almost 80,000 nurses, an MP has claimed.

Labour MP for Barking Dame Margaret Hodge made the comparison after it was reported new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was considering controversial plans to scrap an EU-wide cap on bankers’ bonuses, which limits bonuses at twice an employee’s annual salary.

The plans have been slammed as ‘completely the wrong thing to do’ by unions as nurses prepare to vote on strike action over poor pay.

Focus on bankers’ earnings during cost of living crisis

Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge made the comparison after reports that chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is considering scrapping EU-wide cap on bankers’ bonuses

Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking
Dame Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking. Picture: ANL/Shutterstock

Bankers' bonuses in 2021 could have paid the salaries of almost 80,000 nurses, an MP has claimed.

Labour MP for Barking Dame Margaret Hodge made the comparison after it was reported new chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was considering controversial plans to scrap an EU-wide cap on bankers’ bonuses, which limits bonuses at twice an employee’s annual salary.

The plans have been slammed as ‘completely the wrong thing to do’ by unions as nurses prepare to vote on strike action over poor pay.

Focus on bankers’ earnings during cost of living crisis labelled ‘obscene’

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One show on 15 September, Dame Margaret said focusing on bankers’ earnings in the current cost of living crisis was ‘obscene’.

‘According to this research that I looked at, mergers and acquisition bankers in 2021 got the highest bonuses they have had since records began – £2.6 billion. That is the equivalent of paying the salaries of nearly 80,000 nurses,’ she said.

‘So, thinking about bankers at this stage is obscene. Whose side is everybody on, really?’

Dame Margaret was referring to research by financial data provider Refinitiv for The Guardian earlier this year, which found merger and acquisition bankers were to take home the biggest bonuses since the 2008 financial crash following a record earning of £2.6 billion in fees in 2021, the highest annual total since Refinitiv’s records began in 2000.

UK nursing staff to be balloted on 6 October on potential strike action over pay

Pay for a newly qualified band 5 nurse starts at £27,055. According to Ms Hodge’s claims, breaking the bonuses down by 80,000 would allow for £32,500 per nurse.

NHS nursing staff around the UK are set to be balloted from 6 October on potential strike action over the Government’s pay increase offer of £1,400 – or 4% – in England and Wales and 5% in Scotland. Nurses in Northern Ireland are yet to be offered a pay increase, but will still join the ballot.

The chancellor is yet to confirm if the cap on bankers’ bonuses will be removed, but sources close to Mr Kwarteng claimed he thought it would make London a more attractive place for global banks to do business.

The idea of scrapping the EU cap on bonuses was touted in June, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saying the new approach was ‘pay rises for city bankers and pay cuts for district nurses’.

Treasury should focus its efforts on tackling the ‘growing exodus’ of nursing staff say unions

The bonus cap was introduced after the 2007-08 financial crash to ensure the financial sector was insured against the types of problems that led to the crisis and a slew of taxpayer bailouts.

RCN director for England Patricia Marquis called on the treasury to focus its efforts on the nursing profession as nurses ‘leave in their droves’ after years of underinvestment.

‘Faced with desperate financial hardship, many are wondering how they are going to get through this winter. The Government needs to act and give nursing staff the pay they deserve or even more will leave the profession and the crisis in the nursing workforce will only continue to grow,’ she added.

Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton slammed the bonus cap plan as ‘completely the wrong thing to do’, and called on ministers to tackle the ‘growing exodus’ of staff from the NHS and social care with an above inflation pay rise.

‘Allowing rich city bankers to earn even more while holding back pay for nurses and other health workers is no way to tackle the cost of living crisis, nor protect under pressure public services,’ she added.


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