The Liberal Democrats will make a commitment today to increase NHS pay at least in line with the rate inflation from the next financial year.

  • Lib Dems commit to increase NHS pay from 2016-17
  • Nick Clegg says it is time to “end era of restraint”
  • Norman Lamb says politicians have to be “honest” about staffing and pay

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said public sector workers “have made enough sacrifices” and “it is time to end the era of pay restraint”.

The party said if it is in government it will issue guidance to public sector pay review bodies to ensure pay increases at least in line with inflation in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

After that, pay review bodies will have to deliver an above-inflation rise in public sector pay.

Nick Clegg 2015

‘No more pay freezes or below inflation pay rises,’ Nick Clegg will say

The Liberal Democrats said the policy would result in a minimum pay increase of £350 for a nurse earning £25,000 over the next two years.

Mr Clegg said: “Workers across the public sector have made enough sacrifices. You have done your bit to help get the country back on track.

“That’s why the Liberal Democrats believe it is time to end the era of pay restraint.

“No more pay freezes or below inflation pay rises.

“We can do this because with the Liberal Democrats, there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

According to the Liberal Democrats pay restraint has contributed over £12bn to deficit reduction in this parliament.

Speaking at a health debate in London yesterday, Liberal Democrat care minister Norman Lamb said politicians had to be “honest” that there was a “trade-off between pay and numbers of staff”.

However he said continuing to make efficiencies in the NHS through wage restraint “would not be possible in the next five years”.

“With wage rates starting to rise quite rapidly in other parts of the economy, the NHS will have to keep up,” he said.

In the same debate, Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said he could commit “as a principle” to increasing NHS staff pay in line with inflation over the next five years.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said he was currently unable to make the commitment because he did not know what the “full situation” was going to be over the next parliament.

He said he wanted to be “as generous as possible” while making sure “no decision I take as health secretary means that we would end up having fewer doctors and nurses”.