Almost 900,000 public sector workers on coronavirus frontline to get pay rise

Almost one million public sector workers are to get an above-inflation pay rise to thank them for their work during the coronavirus crisis, the Treasury has announced.

Doctors, teachers and police officers are among those who will receive salary increases of up to 3.1% in 2020/21.

More than 300 NHS workers have died in England alone after contracting the deadly virus, many doing so while caring for patients. Many teachers continued looking after the children of key workers throughout the lockdown while police have been enforcing social distancing rules.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the workers made a ‘vital contribution’ to the country, but Labour said the rise would not make up for years of real-terms cuts while others have complained that it does not apply to social care workers.

The pay increase, announced on Tuesday, will see almost 900,000 workers benefit, with teachers and doctors seeing the largest increase at 3.1% and 2.8% respectively, according to the Treasury.

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Police, prison officers and National Crime Agency staff will be given a 2.5% rise in pay and members of the armed forces will receive a 2% uplift. Meanwhile, members of the judiciary and senior civil servants will also see their pay topped up by 2%.

However council workers and job centre staff, who have been dealing with a surge in millions of universal credit claims, will not see their pay increase.

The Chancellor said: ‘These past months have underlined what we always knew, that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them.

‘It’s right therefore that we follow the recommendations of the independent pay bodies with this set of real-terms pay rises.’

The pay awards for the armed forces, prison officers, senior civil servants and NHS staff will be backdated to April, whereas the pay rise for police and teachers starts in September due to those professions operating on a different pay schedule running from September to August.

More than a million nurses and hospital staff have previously agreed a separate pay settlement, which works out at 4.4% this year.

Who is getting a public sector pay rise?

The pay rises in full:

  • School teachers – 3.1%
  • Doctors & dentists – 2.8%
  • Police officers – 2.5%
  • Armed forces – 2%
  • National Crime Agency – 2.5%
  • Prison officers – 2.5%
  • Judiciary – 2%
  • Senior civil servants – 2%
  • Senior military – 2%

Labour shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said the pay rise was ‘good news’ but claimed it would not make up for a ‘decade of real-terms pay cuts’ for frontline workers.

She added: ‘Many other public sector workers – including those working on the front line in social care – won’t get a pay rise out of this at all because the Tories haven’t made good on their promises to boost local authority funding.

‘That’s not fair – and it’s no way to reward those who’ve been at the forefront of fighting this pandemic.’

Public sector pay was frozen for all but the lowest earners in 2010 and increases were limited to 1% a year from 2013 to 2018 to reduce the budget deficit.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called for social care workers to join the ranks of those being offered a pay rise.

‘These rises are welcome, but there’s still a long way to go to restore pay after a decade of real terms cuts,’ she said.

‘Many public sector workers, like job centre staff and local government workers, aren’t getting these rises. They deserve a decent pay settlement too.

‘And the government should urgently announce a pay rise for social care workers, who put their lives on the line to care for others during this pandemic.’

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea also called for ‘more resources for local authorities’ so council staff and social care workers could also be entitled to a ‘decent wage increase’.

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