The government has said that one million public sector workers are going to receive their biggest pay rise in nearly 10 years, including 2.9% extra for armed forces, 2.75% for prison officers and up to 3.5% for teachers. Police, GPs and Dentists will see a 2% rise.
This move comes after unions campaigned for higher wage rises, and marks the scrapping of the 1% pay cap in the public sector.
The government deemed the increases affordable, as the money was fronted by the individual departments and not the Treasury.
The increase for doctors and dentists only apply to England, whereas the rises for prison officers, teachers and police officers also applies to Wales. The increase in armed forces wages applies to the whole of the UK.
Some of the details regarding schools are that teachers' new pay deal means a rise in 3.5% (worth between £800 and £1,366 per year) for classroom teachers on the main pay range, with teachers in England and Wales receiving rises between 1.5% and 3.5%. Over two years, schools will receive a pay grant of £508m to fund the increases, sourced from existing Department of Education budgets. This is only for English schools, increases in Wales are dependent on the devolved government.
Regarding the armed forces, the rise for members is 2%, falling short of the 2.9% recommended by the Armed Forces' Pay Review Body, but a one-off non-consolidated payment of 0.9% made this year will supplement this. This means the average soldier will receive an extra £680 in pay with a one-off bonus of £300.
The prison worker's 2% increase is supplemented by a one-off payment of 0.75%.
A pay increase of at least 2% is being provided to junior doctors, specialist doctors, GPs and dentists with 1.5% increase going to consultants.
Jeremy Corbyn has said 'By increasing the pay levels, albeit by less than the rate of inflation, that can only be paid for by cuts within the public services. And so, if it's local authorities or anybody else, they're going to have to pay for it by either removing their balances, which they shouldn't be doing, or by cutting services further.' It has been predicted that the cost of scrapping the 1% cap will be around £4bn.
The rises have been seen as an attempt to improve staff recruitment and retention in the public sector, whilst also boosting morale in the area.
The Austerity Measures introduced by Cameron's government 8 years ago have led to unions campaigning to get pay rises closer to 5%.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss deemed the announcement 'fantastic news just before the summer for a million workers right across the public sector', adding that 'We hugely value the work that people do, whether it's teachers, soldiers or police officers.'
On the other hand, Garry Graham, the Prospect union deputy general, said 'Today's pay deals for the armed forces, prison workers and teachers are welcome but confirm what we have long suspected, this government have put civil servants firmly at the back of the queue on public sector pay. Instead of playing cynical divide-and-rule games with overworked and underpaid public sector workers, the government should be committing to above-inflation pay rises for all public servants, with no group left behind.'
Moreover, some unions were not impressed by the increases, calling them 'derisory'. For example, as reported by the Guardian, Dr Anthea Mowat, chair of the British Medical Association's representative body, said 'Since 2008, doctors have experienced the largest drop in earnings of all professions subject to pay review bodies. The effective pay uplift this year for some doctors will be as little as 0.75%, which will be widely seen as derisory.' The Police Federation's vice chair, ChéDonald, said 'Today’s derisory announcement flies in the face of a lot of hot air spouted by the Home Office and government over the past few months. In reality this pay award is an insult to those who serve day in, day out.'