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Cross-party peers back calls to scrap the cap

House of Lords to debate the public sector pay cap, as cross-party group calls for government rethink on ‘detrimental’ policy.
House of Lords

Peers will today debate the public sector pay cap, with a cross-party group calling for a government rethink.

In a letter in the Times newspaper today (see box), a group of ten cross-bench, Labour and Liberal Democrat peers call for the government to reconsider its stance.

Detrimental

They write: As a group of peers representing all parties and none, we will focus on the impact the pay cap is having on staff and the people they serve.

The current 1% pay cap is due to remain for two more years. But we believe its detrimental impact on the NHS and other parts of the public sector must be reversed immediately.

They suggest that

Peers will today debate the public sector pay cap, with a cross-party group calling for a government rethink.


The letter from the cross-party group of peers says ‘a salary rise capped at 1% is effectively a pay cut at a time of rising costs’. Picture: PA

In a letter in the Times newspaper today (see box), a group of ten cross-bench, Labour and Liberal Democrat peers call for the government to reconsider its stance.

Detrimental

They write: ‘As a group of peers representing all parties and none, we will focus on the impact the pay cap is having on staff and the people they serve.

‘The current 1% pay cap is due to remain for two more years. But we believe its detrimental impact on the NHS and other parts of the public sector must be reversed immediately.’

They suggest that low pay has led to people working outside the healthcare sector, meaning patient care and safety are ‘inevitably compromised when hospitals and other care settings are short of staff’.

Referrfing specifically to nursing, they say: ‘With inflation (Retail Price Index) now running at 3.7%, a salary rise capped at 1% is effectively a pay cut at a time of rising food, housing and other costs.’

Cross-party support

RCN chief executive Janet Davies welcomed the support.

‘It is clear that the pay cap is unsustainable and these cross-party peers join a growing number, including members of the government, who believe the cap should be scrapped,’ she said.

‘The reality is that more and more nurses can no longer afford to stay in the profession. Patient care suffers when hospitals are short staffed, and now that more nurses are leaving than joining, the situation is set to get worse.’

The debate is due to take place this afternoon, following oral questions and a debate on the deregulation of public services.

The RCN’s summer of protest over the ongoing pay cap will continue with demonstrations across the UK on 27 July.

Chief secretary to the treasury, Conservative minister Liz Truss said last week that the pay cap would remain in place because it was the responsible way to ensure recruitment and retention were balanced with sustainability.

Full text of the letter

 

Dear Sir,

Today the House of Lords will debate the cap on public sector pay. It will not be characterised by party politics and high rhetoric. As a group of peers representing all parties and none, we will keep it focused on the impact the pay cap is having on staff and the people they serve.

The current 1% pay cap is due to remain for two more years. But we believe its detrimental impact on the NHS and other parts of the public sector must be reversed immediately.

The health and care systems in the UK still do not reflect the needs of the century of the ageing society. An unprecedented increase in demand is already being seen as people survive more illnesses, and live for longer, often with multiple conditions. The NHS needs to be able to rise to this challenge; but there are vast gaps in the workforce across nearly all professions.

Low pay in the public sector leads people to work outside of health and care services. Even though healthcare professionals deliver care to the best of their ability, patient care and safety is inevitably compromised when hospitals and other care settings are short of staff.

For people in nursing, the pay cap has led to a real-terms drop in earnings worth 14%, or around £3,000 per year, since 2010. With inflation (Retail Price Index) now running at 3.7%, a salary rise capped at 1% is effectively a pay cut at a time of rising food, housing and other costs.

We would urge the government to reconsider its current position on pay in the public sector.

Yours sincerely,

Baroness Watkins, Crossbencher

Lord Warner, Crossbencher

Lord Haskel, Labour

Lord Clark, Labour

Baroness Wheeler, Labour

Baroness Lister, Labour

Baroness Blood, Labour

Lord Willis, Liberal Democrat

Baroness Kramer, Liberal Democrat

Baroness Walmsley, Liberal Democrat


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