Exclusive: 3% pay rise for NHS staff “too little”, say 60% of UK adults in new poll

Sienna Rodgers
© Gary L Hider/Shutterstock.com

A majority of UK adults believe NHS workers should get a bigger pay rise than the one currently on offer from the government as the 3% being proposed is “too little”, exclusive polling by Savanta ComRes for LabourList can reveal.

Ministers originally proposed a 1% rise for nurses, health assistants and other NHS staff, alongside a pay freeze for all other public sector workers, which would have been a pay cut once inflation was taken into account.

The government recently confirmed that it would accept the recommendations of pay review bodies and offer a 3% rise for some NHS staff. Labour has described this as a “let down” and highlighted that it is not an NHS-wide pay award.

New research by Savanta ComRes has found that 60% of UK adults think the 3% pay rise announced by the government was either “a little too little” (27%) or “much too little” (33%). 15% said it was “too much” and 23% “about right”.

Asked to indicate which % pay rise they think it would be reasonable for NHS workers to receive this year, 47% chose a figure between 4% and 9%, with 32% choosing 10% or above and 21% choosing between 0% and 3%.

When asked about the NHS pay rise on LBC radio on Monday, Keir Starmer said the 3% offer was “not fair”, though also said the 15% suggested by some was “high” and noted that the increase would “have to be negotiated”.

On Tuesday, Shadow Employment Rights Secretary Andy McDonald said: “For them to be given a 3% rise, given how they’ve slipped backwards since 2010, they would need a 12% rise to put them back in the same position they were in.”

The exclusive LabourList poll also revealed that 44% oppose freezing the pay of police and teachers in England this year, equivalent to a real-terms pay cut. 28% said they support the move, while 22% said they neither support nor oppose.

Labour’s education spokesperson Kate Green said the freeze was an “insult” to teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers called it a “slap in the face”. The Police Federation responded by expressing no confidence in Priti Patel.

Other findings from the polling include more people saying they do not have a good understanding of Labour’s policies on coronavirus measures (48%) than saying they do have a good understanding of them (44%).

And 54% of UK adults said people should “probably” (34%) or “definitely” (30%) continue to work from home at this stage of the pandemic, while just 24% said they thought workers should probably or definitely go back to the office.

Below are the results of the polling by Savanta ComRes in full.

To what extent would you say that you have an understanding of each of the following party’s current policies towards coronavirus measures?

Conservative

Good understanding – 55%
Not much / No understanding – 35%
Don’t know – 9%

Labour

Good understanding – 44%
Not much / No understanding – 48%
Don’t know – 9%

Liberal Democrat

Good understanding – 31%
Not much / No understanding – 57%
Don’t know – 12%

At this stage of the pandemic, to what extent do you think that people should continue to work from home or the office? Please imagine that, for the purposes of the question, people can do their jobs equally well from both home and the office.

Should definitely continue to work from home – 30%
Should probably continue to work from home – 34%
Should probably go back to the office – 17%
Should definitely go back to the office – 7%
Don’t know – 12%

On the scale below, indicate which % pay rise you think it would be reasonable for NHS workers to receive this year?

Net: 0-3% – 21%
Net: 4-9% – 47%
Net: 10%+ – 32%

The government has announced a 3% pay rise for NHS staff this year. To what extent do you think this is too much, too little, or about right?

Net: Too much – 15%
About right – 23%
Net: Too little – 60%
Don’t know – 3%

The government has announced that it will freeze the pay of police and teachers in England this year, meaning that with inflation, it will end up as a real-terms pay cut. To what extent do you support or oppose this pay freeze?

Sum: Support – 28%
Neither support nor oppose – 22%
Sum: Oppose – 44%
Don’t know – 7%

Polling by Savanta: ComRes for LabourList. Fieldwork conducted 23rd-25th July 2021. Poll of 2,161 adults in the UK.

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