News

What does end of public sector pay freeze mean for nurses?

Are nurses guaranteed a pay rise after the chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the pay freeze would end in April 2022? Nursing Standard takes a closer look

Are nurses guaranteed a pay rise after the chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the pay freeze would end in April 2022? Nursing Standard takes a closer look

Earlier this week, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the end of the public sector pay freeze for public sector staff, paving the way for a pay rise for nurses next year.

But what is behind the announcement and is a pay rise guaranteed? Nursing Standard looks at what details have been divulged so far.

Are nurses guaranteed a pay rise after the chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the pay freeze would end in April 2022? Nursing Standard takes a closer look

What will the end of the public sector pay freeze mean for nurses?
Picture: iStock

Earlier this week, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the end of the public sector pay freeze for public sector staff, paving the way for a pay rise for nurses next year.

But what is behind the announcement and is a pay rise guaranteed? Nursing Standard looks at what details have been divulged so far.

Why was the pay freeze imposed in the first place?

The pay freeze was implemented in November 2020 for public sector staff, including the police, teachers and the civil service amid heavy public borrowing due to the pandemic.

However, NHS staff on Agenda for Change contracts and public sector staff earning less than £24,000 a year were excluded.

When will the freeze be lifted?

The pay freeze will come to an end in April 2022. Any increase for nurses would be announced after the government responds to the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body for the 2022-23 pay round.

Mr Sunak said it was right for public sector staff to see a pay rise with the ‘economy back on track’.

Does the news affect the current fight for fair pay?

  • No, the current pay campaign relates to the 3% pay award for 2021-22
  • Nurses across Great Britain are being asked if they would be willing to take industrial action – including a strike – over this year’s award. The RCN, which wants a 12.5% pay rise, launched indicative ballots in England and Scotland, with a third opening in Wales on 4 November. No formal pay announcement has been made in Northern Ireland

What did the chancellor say about pay in the budget?

Pay was only briefly mentioned, when Mr Sunak did commit to ‘fair and affordable’ pay rises for the public sector.

What do the unions think?

Unions criticised the lack of detail on the end to the pay freeze, despite the announcement being heavily trailed in the run-up to the budget.

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘The pay freeze hit nurses working in social care and the community, but whether in the NHS or not, nursing staff need a proper pay rise that finally recognises their skill and professionalism.

‘He failed to address their pay and again kicked the can down the road by failing to give any commitment to a funded strategy for England to address the tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs in health and care.’

GMB general secretary Gary Smith said the budget was scant on detail: ‘Saying you will lift the pay freeze that has ground down public sector workers is meaningless if we don’t even know if wages will increase above inflation.'

What about nurses?

Nurses on the Nursing Standard Facebook page shared their views. ‘Absolutely pathetic, another empty promise, such a slap in the face to all our hard-working nurses,’ said one.

Another highlighted how nearly one in four nurses is employed outside the NHS, where pay, terms and conditions vary widely. ‘Please don’t forget the general practice nurses! We never get the same pay rises,’ they wrote.


Find out more

Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021: Documents


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs