Matt Hancock Claims 1% NHS Pay-Rise Is An Above Inflation Increase Despite Official Forecasts
Matt Hancock claimed the 1% pay increase for NHS workers was a real-terms salary increase (Parliamentlive.TV)
Matt Hancock has doubled down on his claims nurses will see get a real-terms pay increase despite official forecasts suggesting the planned increase will be below the rate of inflation.
The health secretary rejected suggestions the 1% salary hike the government has recommended for some NHS staff will turn out to be a pay cut.
The long-term plan for the health service accounted for a 2.1% increase in the coming financial year, but ministers said after the pandemic they could no longer afford that.
Speaking at the health and social care committee today he said: "Inflation is below 1% and therefore a proposed 1% pay rise is indeed a pay rise, and that's simply a matter of fact."
But the the Office for Budget Responsibility, the government’s official economic advisers, forecast the cost of living will rise to between 1.5% and 1.8% over 2021/22, meaning a 1% rise will mean people will actually have less spending power.
In response the Royal College of Nursing said: “The government is digging in despite public anger and clear support for NHS staff.
“In the middle of a pandemic, ministers cannot justify giving just £3.50 extra per week to nursing staff.”
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Matt Hancock knows full well that with the OBR expectations for inflation, he is imposing a pay cut on NHS staff in a pandemic.
“Ministers should take this pay cut off the table and start talks with staff on a multi-year pay deal that reflects their worth and address recruitment and retention in the NHS.”
Hancock was also accused of comments “beneath his office” after testy exchanges with Labour MP Sarah Owen about the number of nurses required by the health service.
After she asked him to reveal how many nurses were leaving the NHS, and therefore how many additional would need to be recruited, the Cabinet minister said: “It’s quite hard to be accountable for answering questions when every time I try to answer one you cut in.”
Owen later told him: “The way you just spoke to me is beneath your office and beneath how we should be speaking to each other as MPs.”