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Pay cap could see nurse pay fall by thousands in real terms by 2020

Trades Union Congress analysis of public sector pay restraint reveals bleak picture for nurses.

Nurses could face a real terms pay cut of almost £3,000 by the end of the decade, a union analysis on pay restraint has warned.


TUC says shrinking pay makes nurse recruitment more difficult.
Picture: iStock

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) Public Sector Pay Restraint in England report sets out the impact of government restrictions on pay, which currently limit salary increases to 1% a year.

The TUC report, which has calculated pay cuts by mapping the pay growth of public sector workers at 1% a year against 2016 forecasted retail price index inflation statistics, states:

  • By 2020-21, nurses real terms pay could fall by £2,656, from £28,462 per year to £25,806.
  • Over the same period, midwifery pay could fall by £3,318, from £35,255 per year to £31,937.

Pay reform

The TUC has proposed that the government allows each part of the public sector to determine appropriate pay. It wants a reform of pay review bodies, which advise the government on staff salaries.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Government pay restrictions hurt staff in overstretched public services, and make it even harder to recruit good people. Particularly at a time of crisis in the NHS, we need to be recruiting the best people for the job.

‘It’s time for ministers to give public employers the freedom to negotiate with unions for pay in their sectors.’


The RCN and other unions are calling
on the government to remove the
1% pay cap

Controlling finances

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously signalled that the pay restraint is set to continue for the 2017-18 pay award, calling it a ‘crucial’ part of government plans to control public finances.

In September, health unions urged the NHS Pay Review Body (RB) to recommend a meaningful pay rise for health service workers for the 2017-18 pay round.

The RB is expected to submit its report to ministers by the end of February.


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