‘We shouldn’t put a ceiling on NHS pay rise,’ said Labour leader Keir Starmer during Sheffield visit

Sir Keir Starmer said NHS staff should be given a pay rise of at least 2.1 percent or higher during his visit to Sheffield.

By Molly Williams, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 1st April 2021, 4:45 pm

The NHS employs many in the city and lots of students train at its two universities before starting their careers in the service.

Staff in Sheffield, like many across the country, protested the government’s recommendation of a one percent pay rise – calling it out for being a real terms pay cut and saying it was a “kick in the teeth” after saving lives throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

During Sir Starmer’s to Sheffield yesterday he answered a question on whether he supports a 15 percent restorative pay rise for NHS workers that many were calling for.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Labour leader Keir Starmer visited Sheffield, ahead of May's local elections. He visited local businesses and discuss the work being done by the council to tackle the pandemic and rebuild post covid, including work to regenerate the city centre around the Heart of the City development. Picture: Chris Etchells

He said: “The NHS has been fantastic during the pandemic and I have spent a lot of time talking to NHS staff across the country, my wife works in the NHS so I get the daily read-out on the pressures in the NHS.

“After what they have been through we need to say thank you but we also need to say ‘you need a fair pay rise’ and what the government has done to impose a real terms pay cut is completely insulting. I find it insulting as the leader of the Labour Party, when I talk to those on the frontline they find it deeply insulting.

“Obviously the exact percentage of a rise is to be discussed and in the end negotiated of course and decided by an independent body but the government promised a 2.1 percent, they budgeted for 2.1, so the baseline has to be 2.1 percent and we shouldn’t put a ceiling on it.”

Around half of all public-sector workers, including NHS staff, have their salaries negotiated by independent pay-review bodies.

These pay bodies – made up of individuals not directly attached to the relevant department but with experience in economics and employee relations – work with government departments, unions and other groups to come up with a recommendation on how pay should change each year.

The government said public-sector workers would have their pay frozen in 2021-22 with exception for those on salaries below £24,000 and NHS staff.


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.