Jon Ashworth MP: I’m calling on Tory MPs to put aside party politics and support our motion to give NHS staff a fair pay rise
Following the announcement the Government is set to lift the 1% public sector pay cap, Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth calls for the Tories to do more.
Today, Labour will force a vote on public sector pay in the House of Commons, calling for an end to the public sector pay cap.
This is the first time the Government have allowed an Opposition Debate since January, and so Labour are going to use it to give MPs the chance to vote in support of hard-pressed public sector staff.
We have tabled the text of an Early Day Motion signed by cross-party MPs on NHS pay to highlight the Tories’ unfair pay cap and to urge MPs, on both sides of the House, who have spoken out about the cap to now vote with us to end it.
The Government’s public sector pay cap has been a disaster for the NHS. We are 10,000 GPs, 3,500 midwives and now 40,000 nurses short of the number we need.
The pay cap has created a workforce crisis in the NHS which is causing misery for patients. Hospital wards and GP surgeries are chronically understaffed and the knock on effect is waiting lists which are spiralling out of control.
Nurses are being forced to use foodbanks to make ends meet and NHS Providers say that staff are quitting the NHS to stack shelves instead.
Public sector workers are well overdue a pay rise and there is clear cross party support for the pay cap to be lifted.
However already we see signs that the government are planning to play groups of public sector workers off against each other.
On Tuesday the government tried to tell us that the pay cap had been lifted with a 2 per cent pay offer for police and 1.7 per cent for prison officers.
Let’s be clear – these offers are below inflation, and in the case of the police award, non-consolidated. This isn’t the lifting of the cap, it’s a further pay cut.
This just won’t wash – at the election the Tories’ pay policy was decisively rejected.
The cap has to be lifted, properly, across the public sector.
A public sector worker on the median public sector wage in 2010 has seen over the past 7 years the value of their wage drop by £3,875. That’s more than the cost of feeding the average family for a year.
If the cap remains in place until the end of the Parliament, a public sector worker on the median wage in 2016 will see their pay drop by at least another £2,202.
The pay cap is unfair, causes hardship and is helping contribute to the staffing crisis now facing the NHS.
In recent weeks NHS staff have welcomed those Conservative MPs who have sincerely spoken out on the need to end this pay gap. Some Tory MPs have gone so far to show their support by even hosting organisations such as the Royal College of Nursing here in Westminster. I know from the messages I have received from NHS staff across the country that there are Tory MPs who have assured constituents of their support for this campaign. Today NHS staff will be looking to those MPs to take a firm stand in the House of Commons. I hope they put aside party politics and do what is right by our hardworking NHS staff.
Yesterday the Chancellor announced the date of his Autumn Budget, today MPs of all parties need to send the clearest possible message that the pay cap must be scrapped by voting for our motion this afternoon.
Jon Ashworth is the Labour Member of Parliament for Leicester South and is the Shadow Secretary of State for Health