13% pay rise for HMRC changes debate on NHS dispute, Maajid Nawaz insists

6 March 2021, 15:09 | Updated: 6 March 2021, 18:33

By Seán Hickey

A recently approved 13% pay hike for HMRC staff left Maajid Nawaz wondering why the NHS struggles to get a similar raise.

Maajid Nawaz rechecked his own opinions on the furore surrounding the proposed 1% pay increase for NHS workers after learning that HMRC staff would receive a 13% pay rise over the next three years. The 13% increase is on average, rather than a blanket 13% increase.

Documents from unions representing HMRC staff show that workers will be paid 3% this month as a backdated payment for last year; 5% in June 2021 and another 5% in June 2022 to make up an increase of 13%.

Before sharing his view, Maajid clarified that "this is not anyone begrudging anyone here," and although HMRC staff "probably deserve" a pay increase, he couldn't justify it against the NHS' struggle.

The change to HMRC contracts comes alongside a change in employee terms and conditions and internal restructuring within HMRC which predates the pandemic, and seeks to amend legacy inconsistencies going as far back as the merging of Inland Revenue and HM Customs and as such the increase does not come from the taxpayer.

"If protecting the NHS was at the top of their agenda, if we were encouraged to clap for the NHS, out there on our streets and on our balconies and in our flats and so on and so forth, you've got to stop and wonder how the royal college of nurses asking for 12.5% increase in pay is somehow too much when the taxman's got 13%."

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Maajid encouraged listeners to ask why this hasn't been shared widely in the media, noting that neither he nor his producer had known about this rise before a listener tipped them off.

He wondered if this changes the "entire row," before arguing that "it does certainly highlight one thing."

"Collective bargaining power – that's what it can achieve." Maajid saw this as an example of how the NHS workers can fight to have their demands met if the stick together.

On the 12.5% demand, Maajid admitted that "before learning this I was thinking 'yeah that's a bit too much.'

"Now I'm not so sure."

A spokesperson for HMRC commented:

“HMRC’s recent pay and contract offer sought to redesign our contracts to achieve a fairer and more consistent set of working arrangements across the department. The changes will mean that the pay increase for colleagues is entirely self-funded within the department’s existing budget and won’t cost the taxpayer any more than if the offer hadn’t been accepted, and we will deliver better public services and savings for the taxpayer.”