PDA comment on announcements of pay increases for public servants

Pharmacists working in the NHS will understandably question why they were not included in the government's announcement this week. The PDA advises caution when reading the reports of the increases as some key facts have been left out of the Treasury press release.

Wed 22nd July 2020 The PDA

The UK Government announced pay settlements for a number of public servants on 21 July that at face value look generous and significantly above inflation. The increase of 3.1% for teachers attracted many of the headlines and was the highest of the increases covered by the announcement.

Other groups included senior civil servants, prison officers, police officers and doctors and dentists with increases ranging between 2.0% and 2.8%. The announcement attracted headlines describing the increases as “inflation busting” and the press coverage gave the impression these awards are to reward the commitment shown by public servants for work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PDA however advises caution when reading the reports of the increases. Members working in the NHS will understandably question why they were not included in the announcement as some key facts have been left out of the Treasury press release.

Paul Moloney, PDA Union National Officer, explains why it is important to look at the missing facts around these pay awards and question the spin put on the announcement by the Government.

It is especially important to bear these key facts in mind when reading the Governments spin on these awards. It means these awards are in some cases late, with recommendations having sat on Ministers’ desks for months, not inflation busting and have nothing at all to do with the work all public servants have undertaken during the crisis, the commitment they have shown and the enhanced risks they have endured. It is disappointing journalists and others have not questioned some of the claims made by the Government when announcing the awards.”

Key Facts

Fact 1. All the awards covered in the statement are subject to recommendations made by Independent Pay Review Bodies. The Government has simply announced it will accept the recommendations.

Fact 2. Some of the awards were due to be paid in April this year, others in July but, all are based on evidence collected by Pay Review Bodies before the full impact of the pandemic was known. In some cases, the evidence relates to the period before pandemic had even started.

Fact 3. The awards only appear “inflation busting” when measured against today’s exceptionally low inflation rate. They are modest increases when compared to the inflation rate at the time the recommendations were made. For those increases due on 1 April the benchmark would be the March 2020 inflation rate which was 2.6%.

Paul explained further that once these facts are known it can be seen why the NHS was not part of the statement. “It is entirely understandable that members working in the NHS would question why they had been ignored on the basis of the information released by the Government.

Our members in the NHS, along with other NHS employees, were left out of the announcement for the very good reason that they had their increase due on 1 April on time. There was no delay in paying the increase, so the Government could not include them in the spin doctoring and misinformation about the other public service awards.”

Paul, who previously worked for the union representing Radiographers was part of the small team of trade union officials that negotiated the current 3 year pay deal for NHS employees. He explains that the deal has led to significant increases for all NHS employees over the 3 years of the deal. The last part of the deal was implemented this year.

“The deal was complex and meant the complete overhaul of all Agenda for Change pay scales with individual pay increases varying depending on where an individual was on the pay scale in March 2018. Any member at the top of their band would have received their increase in April. Any member not at the top will receive an increase in April and a second increase on their personal incremental date.    The very minimum a person would have received between 2018 and 2020 was 7.6% but many would have received increases well into double figures over that time.”

The PDA therefore stresses that most important point for NHS members to appreciate is that the announcement made recently for teachers and others are about pay awards that were due earlier in the year. NHS employees, including pharmacists, have already received their award and that none of the awards announced match the size of the NHS award for this year let alone for the full period of the 3 year deal.

The PDA fully recognises that the work undertaken by our members in the NHS and at other employers such as Boots, now deserves to result in a pay award that reflects their hard work and commitment to delivering first class patient care during an unprecedented health crisis.

Paul concluded: “The time for quantifying this however is once the full impact on members is known. In the meantime, we should not react to the Governments attempts to portray the recently announced awards as somehow reflecting the period since March, when factually they simply do not. Our members in the NHS should therefore recognise their increase was paid on time and could not therefore have been used in the spin doctoring designed to present the Government in a more generous light than they perhaps deserve.”

COVID related increases should be included in the next pay awards and the PDA have already included this topic in the pay claim recently submitted at Boots where they are negotiating pay for c. 6,500 pharmacists at that multiple.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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