The argument for Regional Pay:
The Department of Health says that private sector businesses can struggle to compete for staff in certain areas of the country where the NHS “overpays workers” and the pay differential between NHS and private sector workers is high.
Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, is supporting proposals for regional pay for NHS workers – meaning that some nurses, midwives and hospital porters would be paid less in poorer parts of the country.
The Department of Health has said in written evidence to the NHS Pay Review Body, which is examining regional pay, that “there is a prima facie case for the introduction of more market facing pay” for some staff, and the introduction of such pay would “enable more efficient and effective use of NHS funds.”
The NHS Pay Review Body is due to report its conclusions this summer as part of plans to introduce more local variation in pay.
The argument against Regional Pay
Here are just five reasons why it doesn't add up:
Regional pay could mean two nurses or teachers with the same skills and experience being paid differently in two different places - even though they're doing the same job. People should be paid based on their skills and the work they do, not where they live. Low pay could make it harder for poorer regions to attract and keep the skilled public sector workers they need.
Regional pay could also work against equal pay. Great progress has been made in the public sector in narrowing the pay gap between women and men. For instance, the Agenda for Change system in the NHS was designed to deliver equal pay. Bringing in local or regional pay could unravel this progress.
It's bad for the economy
Public sector workers are already feeling the pinch from pay freezes, the VAT rise and inflation. Regional pay would mean holding back pay for even longer in the parts of the country that are struggling the most.
Holding back public sector pay will take money out of public sector workers' pockets that they would otherwise spend in local shops and businesses. Taking demand out of the economy like this will hurt the private sector and widen the north-south divide.
It isn't backed up by evidence
The government has argued that public sector pay stops the private sector growing. In fact, there's no evidence to support this. There is an average of five people chasing every job vacancy, and up to 30 unemployed people per vacancy in some areas. It's the lack of demand in the economy, not the wages of nurses and teachers that is causing the problem.
It isn't what the private sector does
Most big private sector employers recognise that a national system is the fairest and most efficient way to set pay. In fact, companies like Waterstones, Greggs, Marks and Spencer, BT and Halfords all take the same sort of approach as the public sector: a national pay system with limited additions for London and the south east of England.
According to a recent opinion poll only 28% of voters believe the idea of extending pay freezes for public sector workers outside of the south east and London would be fair. As few as 17% believe that real term pay cuts for public sector workers would help low pay regional economies. It's time that coalition MPs listened to their constituents, heard their concerns and put a stop to these damaging and divisive plans.
Why Regoinal Pay Doesnt Add up April 2012.pdf
What do you think about this?
Want to do something about it?
Various materials are now up on a dedicated page of the TUC website at www.tuc.org.uk/payfair , including tools to help you write to your MPs and local newspapers and a model council motion.