Nick Ferrari confronts Sunak on NHS pay freeze during Covid

26 November 2020, 09:40 | Updated: 26 November 2020, 09:53

By Fiona Jones

Nick Ferrari challenged the Chancellor on why some NHS workers will have their pay frozen, months after standing on his doorstep to applaud them for their life-saving work during the pandemic.

There will be a pay freeze for the majority of the public sector next year, with a special exemption for lower-paid NHS workers and other lower-paid employees, Rishi Sunak announced in Wednesday's Spending Review.

However NHS workers will not receive a pay rise if their salaries are above the £24,000 per annum threshold.

Speaking on his LBC Breakfast show, Nick asked Mr Sunak why this was the case after standing on his doorstep to applaud their work.

The Chancellor responded that this is a "very challenging set of circumstances" which meant he had to "make some very difficult decisions yesterday to deliver on all the priorities we've already talked about."

"Coming in to this crisis there was a disparity between private and public sector pay, pay levels in the public sector were higher than in the private sector," Mr Sunak said, "that difference has been exacerbated by what we're seeing.

"Over the last six months wages in the private sector have fallen by 1%, wages in the public sector have risen by 4%. People in the private sector have lost their job, their hours have been cut, they have been furloughed - that hasn't happened in the public sector.

"In order to protect jobs in the public sector and to ensure fairness, I don't think I could justify an across the board pay increase."

The Treasury will listen to the pay review body for the NHS workers and they will receive a pay rise next year, the Chancellor confirmed, but the lower-paid workers in any public sector field will continue to be supported.

"That means the majority of public sector workers will see an increase in their pay next year, I think that's a reasonable proportionate and fair approach, given the situation," he said.

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