Health bodies have accused Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng of having his ‘priorities wrong’ after lifting a cap on bankers’ bonuses in his first mini-budget.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the Government was handing ‘billions to bankers and nothing to nurses’ amid a row over NHS pay.
It is urging its 300,000-plus members to vote in favour of strike action when ballots open next month.
Nurses have been given a salary bump of around 4 per cent — but unions have for months been calling for a pay rise that goes above inflation, which is currently 10 per cent.
RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘Nursing will be dismayed by the decision to prioritise well-off bankers over NHS and social care staff, some of whom are using food banks and live on a financial knife-edge.’
In his ‘Emergency Budget’ in the House of Commons today, Mr Kwarteng confirmed the cap limiting bonuses to double a banker’s basic salary was being lifted.
It was imposed by the EU in 2014 to discourage the type of profit hunting that critics said contributed to the 2008 financial crash.
But Mr Kwarteng, who said he was ‘unashamedly’ looking at ways to boost growth to the UK economy, believes the move will bring the best talent to the City.
Pat Cullen (pictured left), chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said Kwasi Kwarteng (right) was handing ‘billions to bankers and nothing to nurses’ after lifting a cap limiting bonuses to double a banker’s basic salary
It comes after the Royal College of Midwives yesterday announced it was putting industrial action to a vote among its members.
Dr Suzanne Tyler, executive director at the RCM, said: ‘Industrial action is always the very, last resort for midwives and maternity staff.
‘They obviously now see no other alternative to getting a fair and just pay award from their governments.’
Scrapping the banker bonus cap was floated when Boris Johnson was PM, before being dropped amid fears about the optics during a cost-of-living crisis.
But Mr Kwarteng said that all it had done was drive up salaries and hinder London’s ability to compete against Paris, Frankfurt and New York.
Announcing its removal today, he said the current rules were driving the best talent away from the City.
But Labour Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said that the move was part of ‘a plan to reward the already wealthy… a return to the trickle-down of the past’.
Her comments were echoed by the country’s top nurse, Pat Cullen. ‘This statement gave billions to bankers and nothing to nurses,’ she said.
‘What clearer sign could there be of a government with the wrong priorities.
‘Ministers have taken advantage of the goodwill of nursing staff for far too long, and we’re urging our members to vote in favour of strike action when our ballot opens on 6 October.’
NHS pay review bodies have said the basic pay for nurses should rise by 4 per cent, while doctors and dentists salary should be bumped by 4.5 per cent.
But health bodies say rising inflation means this amounts to a real-terms pay cut and leaves medics worse-off.
The chair of the BMA has warned strike action is ‘inevitable’, which could see 160,000 senior doctors could walk out.
Junior doctors have also told ministers they will vote on industrial action if their ‘unacceptable’ 2 per cent pay offer is not upped.