RCM welcomes pension contribution increase delay but says ‘inflation busting’ pay award is needed
Government plans that mean many NHS staff will pay higher pension contributions have been delayed after being challenged by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and other unions.
The RCM reported in January on its response to Government plans for changes to member contributions for staff in England and Wales with these set to start on 1 April this year. In its consultation response the Government announced implementation of the plans has now been pushed back to October 2022. They are waiting until after the NHS pay review Body (PRB) make their pay recommendation for AfC staff, expected in the Spring.
“Without a pay award that absorbs the planned pension increases for many, along with the effects of climbing interest rates and cost of living increases, the benefits of the delay which the Government says is to help NHS staff in their pay packet, will be lost,” said Alice Sorby the RCM’s Employment Relations Advisor. “Our members are already significantly worse off now than they were a decade or more ago because of pay freezes and stagnation. They will now see their incomes fall even further without a pay rise that recognises the reality of their lives, and the real and worsening economic situation they live in.”
In its response to the pension consultation the Department for Health and Social Care outlined the reason for delaying implementation. “This might mitigate the impact on take-home pay for some NHS staff in the short term. By postponing the reforms, the need to reform the member contribution structure is balanced against managing the impact on members’ net income, particularly those who work full time on lower rates of annual pay,” they said.
While it welcomed the delay that will help protect take home pay in the very short term, the RCM said it needs to be matched with an ‘inflation busting’ pay award to ensure midwives, maternity support workers (MSW) and other NHS staff do not see their overall take home pay fall. “Our members should be seeing their take home pay rising significantly, because what they are facing, at best, is simply treading water on pay, and that is not acceptable,” said Alice Sorby.
To read the RCM's pensions consultation response (including information about the changes being introduced that the RCM supports) in full visit rcm-response-to-nhs-pensions-contribution-consultation-converted.pdf.
For more information about NHS pensions see the pensions section of the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/supporting/pensions/.