Government to deny NHS staff pay rise in the budget

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak clapping outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to salute local...

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak clapping outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to salute local heroes during the nationwide Clap for Carers initiative - Credit: PA

Reports claim that chancellor Rishi Sunak will not include a pay boost for health workers in England's forthcoming budget, despite warnings it could cause an exodus among frontline staff.

Sunak will not make any decision on salaries for NHS staff until he receives the NHS Pay Review Body’s conclusions, which are due to be delivered in May, according to the newspaper.

Labour has said denying NHS staff a pay rise would be a “kick in the teeth” after months on the frontline during the pandemic.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Our NHS staff deserve a fair pay rise.

“If Rishi Sunak next week refuses it will be a kick in the teeth to our brave hardworking NHS heroes.”

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The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) added a low-level pay rise similar to that given to other public sector workers last year will not prevent nursing staff leaving after the pandemic, which would leave patients to “pay the price”.

Meanwhile, the Times reported that Sunak is drawing up plans for a “stealth tax” on wealthy pensioners by freezing the lifetime allowance at just over £1 million.

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Former Brexit secretary David Davis is among those warning the chancellor against raising taxes, suggesting that it would lead to the loss of constituencies in the north of England.

Speaking to Times Radio, he said: “If the government tries to increase the tax burden, which is already the highest or second highest in 50 years, that will do damage to the economy, that will do damage to my constituency.”

The Daily Telegraph quotes a Treasury source as saying that the chancellor will call for “honesty” about the need to eventually bring down wartime levels of spending in his Budget speech.

Former prime minister David Cameron warned Sunak that tax rises “wouldn’t make any sense at all” as the nation opens back up from the coronavirus lockdown.

Downing Street has warned Conservative MPs they could lose the party whip if they vote against the budget, amid suggestions there may be a rebellion over a possible increase to corporation tax.

No spending or taxation plans have been confirmed ahead of Wednesday’s budget, but The Times reported that officials are considering plans to increase corporation tax from 19% to 25%.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said increasing corporation tax in the Budget would be the “wrong decision” by the government and questioned the need for “immediate” changes to the tax system.

Her comments to the Institute of Global Prosperity at University College London came after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said “now is not the time” for tax increases.

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