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No 10 refuses to provide particulars of how £4bn pay deal for well being staff shall be funded – reside | Politics

March 17, 2023
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No 10 says new pay offer for health workers will cost £4bn, but won't give details of how it will be funded

Downing Street says the improve pay offer for health workers in England announced yesterday will cost around £4bn.

At the morning lobby briefing, a No 10 spokesperson said the “non-consolidated element for 2022-23” – the one-off payments worth up to 8.2% – would cost an extra £2.7bn.

And he said the “consolidated element for 2023-24” – the 5% pay rise – would cost around £1.3bn.

The spokesperson would not say how the £4bn would be funded. The health department will be discussing this with the Treasury, he said.

Updated at 13.00 GMT

Key events

Here is a question from below the line, prompted by the Jeremy Hunt quote posted at 11.57am.

@Andrew. Could someone please clarify whether we are or were "the fastest growing economy in the G7" or not?

I'm quite prepared to believe that Hunt and the others are being deceitful, but is there anything to base their claims on at all?

In fact, Hunt said the UK was “the fastest growing economy in the G7 last year”. He has said this before and the Full Fact factchecking website published a good analysis of it last month. They concluded that what Hunt said was correct, but far from the full picture.

Here is an extract.

It is true that, when comparing annual GDP in 2022 with 2021, the UK economy grew by 4%—the fastest rate in the G7.

However, as others have pointed out, when making this comparison it’s worth bearing in mind that in 2021 the economy was still impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic so comparisons with this period are not necessarily the most useful way of assessing recent economic growth.

Looking at other periods not impacted by the pandemic, the UK’s growth does not compare as favourably to other G7 countries.

ONS statistics show that the UK’s GDP growth between the final quarter of 2019 (pre-pandemic) and the final quarter of 2022, was the lowest in the G7, at -0.8%.

Government ‘to cut £250m from social care workforce funding’ in England

Ministers are poised to cut £250m from investment in the social care workforce in England, it has been reported, in a move that could set back care “for years to come”, my colleague Robert Booth reports.

No 10 says it has 'no current plans' to tell people to apply for passports earlier due to impending five-week strike

Downing Street says it has no plans start advising people to allow more time to get a new passport even though Passport Office staff have announced a five-week strike.

But the government will be doing what it can to reduce the impact of the strike, a No 10 spokesperson told journalists. He said:

There are no current plans to change the guidance that people should allow up to 10 weeks to get a passport. The Home Office will work hard to manage the impact of this strike action to ensure they can still provide the vital service to the British public as you would expect ahead of the summer where we fully acknowledge that many people will want to get away and enjoy the summer with their family.

So we will do everything we can to mitigate the impact of the strikes.

Updated at 13.00 GMT

No 10 says new pay offer for health workers will cost £4bn, but won't give details of how it will be funded

Downing Street says the improve pay offer for health workers in England announced yesterday will cost around £4bn.

At the morning lobby briefing, a No 10 spokesperson said the “non-consolidated element for 2022-23” – the one-off payments worth up to 8.2% – would cost an extra £2.7bn.

And he said the “consolidated element for 2023-24” – the 5% pay rise – would cost around £1.3bn.

The spokesperson would not say how the £4bn would be funded. The health department will be discussing this with the Treasury, he said.

Updated at 13.00 GMT

Yesterday Labour sought to weaponse the budget plan to abolish the lifetime cap on tax-free pension savings (the LTA, or lifetime allowance), describing this as a tax cut for the richest 1% which it will reverse if it wins power.

After Liz Truss announced the abolition of the 45% top rate of tax in last year’s mini-budget, a Labour attack along these lines quickly succeeded after many Conservative MPs concluded the opposition was right.

But this time the Conservative party is digging in, enthusiastically tweeting a story on the front page of the Daily Telegraph today claiming that the Labour policy amounts to a proposed “tax raid on up to two million pension pots”. Its report says:

Analysis showed that in two years’ time - by which point Labour could have won a general election - two million people could face paying taxes of up to 55 per cent on their pots as a result of (Rachel) Reeves’ policy.

Labour once again doing what they do best - playing political games.

We have put forward a sensible policy to staff our NHS and to keep people in work.

Labour have put forward another vacuous protest just for the sake of argument.#SameOldLabour🥀

— CCHQ Press (@CCHQPress) March 17, 2023

My colleague Richard Partington, a Guardian economics correspondent, does not find the 2m figure convincing.

2m pension pots at risk?

Ergo, if the policy was to get more NHS doctors to stay in work, we should have 2m more doctors?

Or maybe the policy was never really much about doctors…

— Richard Partington (@RJPartington) March 17, 2023

And unsure how Telegraph gets up to 2m for the ‘tax raid’ on £1m+ pension pots

FCA data shows 8,600 faced charges for exceeding LTA in 20-21. 1% of all pensions accessed for first time.

Resolution Foundation show the LTA applied to only a few people, most in private sector

— Richard Partington (@RJPartington) March 17, 2023

Meanwhile, the IFS and Resolution Foundation suggest the policy could have no impact on raising employment. And suggest it could open a massive loophole to inheritance tax avoidance.

— Richard Partington (@RJPartington) March 17, 2023

Updated at 13.03 GMT

Hunt and Reeves respond after OECD says UK set to be only G20 economy apart from Russia to shrink this year

The UK will be the only economy in the G20 apart from Russia to shrink this year as high inflation, the energy crisis and low productivity hinder its recovery, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. My colleague Phillip Inman has the story here.

In a statement issued in response, Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, said the UK economy was resilient.

The British economy has proven more resilient than many expected, outperforming many forecasts to be the fastest growing economy in the G7 last year, and is on track to avoid recession.

Earlier this week I set out a plan to grow the economy by unleashing business investment and helping more people into work, alongside extending our significant energy bill support to help with rising prices, made possible by our windfall tax on energy profits.

But Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said the OECD forecast reflected “13 years of Tory failure”.

BREAKING: The OECD expect the UK to be the only G7 economy to shrink this year.

It doesn't have to be like this.

After 13 years of Tory failure what we need now is the ambition to grow our economy so every part of Britain feels better off.

— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) March 17, 2023

Updated at 13.02 GMT

Raab to push for tougher minimum sentence in domestic homicides

Domestic abusers in England and Wales who kill their partners or ex-partners are to face tougher sentences under government plans after a campaign by bereaved families, my colleague Alexandra Topping reports.

Private member's bill to ban import of hunting trophies from endangered species clears Commons

This morning MPs have passed the hunting trophies (import prohibition) bill, a private member’s bill introduced by the Conservative MP Henry Smith, which will ban the import of hunting trophies from species of conservation concern.

The bill passed its third reading unopposed after amendments were accepted preventing the government extending the ban to species that are not endangered, and setting up a board to advise the government on implementation of the law. The bill will now go to the House of Lords.

In their 2019 election manifesto the Tories promised to legislate to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered species.

Smith posted this on Twitter earlier.

Very appropriate that parliamentary prayers started today with words attributed to St Patrick. ☘️

I also drew inspiration from St Francis of Assisi, patron Saint of animals and the environment, as I conclude my Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill House of Commons stages!

— Henry Smith MP 🇬🇧 (@HenrySmithUK) March 17, 2023

Updated at 11.42 GMT

Starmer says SNP 'falling apart' and lurching to right, as he urges progressive Scots to back Labour

Even the most loyal SNP supporter would admit that the current leadership contest has not been a great advertisement for the party. None of the candidates are considered comparable to Nicola Sturgeon in leadership ability, some of the debates have been acrimonious, and the contest has opened up a public debate about the failings of the SNP government.

One person taking a close interest in this is Keir Starmer. Scotland was predominantly Labour territory, not SNP territory, in UK elections before 2015, and Starmer wants some of those voters back. He has made a pitch for them in a major interview with the Daily Record. Here are the main points.

I do think the SNP are falling apart. I think they have run out of road and the mask of many years, which is to argue only about the constitution in the hope that nobody will notice how bad you are in government, has slipped completely.

They’ve descended into an internal wrangle where they are bitterly accusing each other of being pretty well unfit for office on the basis of their appalling record.

They are showing that they’re not truly a progressive party. They’re not truly the party of change. They’re actually the party that’s run out of ideas, run out of hope.

I do think there’s a real lurch to the right. I think it exposes the SNP as a party that hasn’t got a common thread running through it.

Some of the stuff that’s been coming out in these debates is very much to the right. People would recoil from it, when it comes to discussions about family rights, abortion rights. It shows a party that’s completely disorientated without any core progressive value.

Starmer is referring primarily to Kate Forbes, the finance secretary who has said she is opposed to equal marriage, and even having children out of wedlock, because of her Christian faith. The fact that betting odds suggest Forbes has a 44% chance of winning, according to OLBG (which has Humza Yousaf on 65% and Ash Regan on 4%), imply these views are not as big a vote loser for Forbes as many assumed at the start of the contest. But Forbes has stressed that these are just her personal views, and not proposals she would try to implement as first minister.

If you’re progressive, if you want change, if you see a better future for Scotland, where the economy is thriving, where we are rushing towards the next generation of green jobs, if you want a Scotland with better public services and opportunities for every child and a safer Scotland, then that change is on offer. And that change is with Labour.

  • He says reforming the Gender Recognition Act will not be a priority for a Labour government, and criticises Sturgeon for not taking public opinion with her when her government passed its gender recognition reform bill. He says:

What’s happened in Scotland is a reminder that if you want change, you have to carry the public with you.

Gender recognition will not be one of the priorities of the incoming government.

Updated at 11.46 GMT

Raab refuses to confirm extra money for pay deal for NHS staff won't come from health budget

The government has yet to explain how the pay rise for health workers announced yesterday will be funded.

Rachel Harrison, the national secretary of the GMB, told the Today programme this morning that the union was assured that the funding for the 5% pay rise agreed for 2023-24 would not come from the existing health budget. She said this was a condition set by the GMB and some of the other unions. She explained:

“We wanted reassurance that this was additional money and it was not going to come out of NHS current budgets and that was the commitment we were given by the government. We were told that this would be additional money and it wouldn’t come out of existing health budgets.”

But when Dominic Raab, the deputy PM and justice secretary, was asked to confirm this in his interview, he refused. He said that the government had already set aside money to pay for a 3.5% pay rise in 2023-24 (the original proposal) and that the money “won’t come, of course, from frontline funding”.

Pressed on whether the Department of Health would get extra money to fund this, Raab said that was a matter for the health secretary and the chancellor, but implied the money would come from the existing health budget. He said:

I think the expectation will be the budget is set, it provides enough resource, but of course with all of these things, and particularly with something as fluid as the strikes, the opportunity to make sure we get that right is there.

This is from Sky’s Rob Powell.

Not a lot of clarity on where money for the NHS pay deal is coming from...

Raab - within existing budgets.

GMB - not within existing NHS budgets, assured it's new money.

DHSC - being discussed in govt atm but no impact on patient-facing aspects.


— Rob Powell (@robpowellnews) March 17, 2023

Updated at 11.48 GMT

Passport Office workers across UK to strike for five weeks over pay

Passport Office workers are to strike for five weeks in an escalation of a dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, my colleague Jamie Grierson reports.

NEU and other teaching unions enter 'intensive talks' with DfE on pay, in hope of reaching deal to end strikes

In the strike negotiation process “joint statements” are always a good sign, and we’ve just had one issued on behalf of “the government and education unions”. It says they are moving into “intensive talks”.

The government and the education trade unions, Association of School and College Leaders, National Association of Head Teachers, NASUWT and National Education Union, have agreed to move into a period of intensive talks. The talks will focus on teacher pay, conditions and workload reduction.

In order for talks to begin and, we hope, reach a successful conclusion, the NEU has confirmed it will create a period of calm for two weeks during which time they have said no further strike dates will be announced. The education secretary and all the unions will meet today, beginning intensive talks, which will continue over the weekend.

The key move has come from the NEU, because other unions were already talking to the Department for Education. Previously there has been a deadlock because the government said it would not commit to serious talks on pay until the NEU called off its strikes, and the NEU said it would not call off its strikes until the government committed to serious talks on pay.

The NEU held strikes in England on Wednesday and yesterday. No further strike dates have been announced, and so it is not having to call off any. But it has committed to not announcing any further action over the next fortnight.

Coming after yesterday’s announcement of a pay deal for health workers, this statement will raise hopes that an end to the teaching strikes is getting closer.

Both sides are also briefing that they will not be commenting on the details of the talks. That is another sign that things are serious. (It is the equivalent of “going into the tunnel” in EU negotiations terminology.)

Updated at 11.50 GMT

Dominic Raab urges junior doctors to call off strikes and accept ‘similar offer’ to that made to other health workers

Good morning. Yesterday the government and unions representing health workers, including nurses, announced they had reached a new deal on pay. It involves compromises on both sides – the government has improved the pay offer for the current financial year, which it had ruled out; the Royal College of Nursing’s demand for RPI inflation plus 5% is a distant memory – but there seems a good chance that it could end the strikes by workers such as ambulance staff and nurses in England. Here is our story by Heather Stewart and Anna Bawden.

The negotiations did not included junior doctors – the specialists below consultant level who keep hospitals functioning, and who staged a three-day strike this week. This morning Dominic Raab, the deputy PM and justice secretary, was giving interviews and he confirmed to the Today programme that a similar offer was on the table for junior doctors, and that he hoped they would resume talks too. He said:

A similar offer is on the table (for junior doctors). I think it would be good for the BMA (British Medical Association, which represents junior doctors) to meet with the health secretary, as he’s offered. And I hope that we can resolve that issue as well.

Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, told the same programme that he hoped to have a meeting with Steve Barclay, the health secretary, very soon. He said:

Our position has been that we are open to talk in good faith, meaningfully, at any time.

We were ready to talk months ago. Our formal dispute started over 150 days ago and, again, that is just what I mean in that it is disappointing it has taken Steve Barclay so long to get to the negotiating table.

I only hope that he does come with good faith and a mandate to negotiate.

So far we haven’t arranged a time for this afternoon but there has been some correspondence between our offices so it does look like we’ll be able to set something up in the near future.

The Commons is sitting today, with MPs debating private members’ bills (starting with the hunting trophies (import prohibition) bill), but generally the diary is quiet.

I’ll try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at

Updated at 09.28 GMT

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