How public sector pay offers differ in England to Scotland and Wales

Teachers and NHS staff in England left behind in pay offers compared to their Scottish and Welsh counterparts

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Following months of industrial action and calls for fair pay rises, Westminster have finally started to put offers to public sector workers on the table.

However it seems this may not signify an end to the ongoing pay disputes as the latest teachers’ pay offer received union backlash and the new NHS pay deal has been met with criticism from frustrated members.

The UK government has made their ‘final offer’ to teachers in England, amounting to an average 4.5% pay rise and one-off cash payment of £1,000, which the National Education Union (NEU) has labelled ‘insulting’.

NHS workers in England are currently being balloted by their unions on another supposed final offer from Steve Barclay, which amounts to a 5% consolidated pay increase for 2023/24 and one-off bonus worth between £1,655 to £3,789.

In comparison, resolutions have already been found in Wales and Scotland including historic pay deals and amicable negotiations, as the Westminster government’s inability to deliver meaningful offers leaves workers in England behind.


Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland union voted overwhelmingly to accept a ‘historic’ pay offer for teachers earlier this month.

Determined strike action paid off, with the latest offer amounting to a 14.6% increase in pay for most teachers by January 2024.

The pay deal is made up of a 7% uplift between April 2022 and March 2023, a 5% rise between April and December 2023, and a 2% increase between January and July 2024.

The Scottish government said it was the ‘largest pay package in over 20 years’.

In the health service, a deal has been accepted which will see the majority of Scotland’s health workers receive at least a 6.5% pay rise as well as a 1.5% one-off payment.

The then Health Secretary for Scotland, and now leader of the SNP, Humza Yousaf, said that the UK government would need to offer a pay increase between 12% and 14% in 2023/24, for NHS England pay to catch-up with Scotland.

Although a sizeable minority of union members from the RCN and GMB unions voted to reject the offer, unions have said they now hope to focus on tackling the recruitment and staff retention crisis in the health service.


Teachers in Wales have accepted a new Welsh government pay offer earlier this month, bringing the dispute there to an end.

The offer amounted to a 11.8% consolidated pay rise over two years, compromised of a 3% pay award for 2022/23, which includes 1.5% consolidated pay rise and 1.5% paid as one-off lump sum and a 5% pay award for 2023/24.

The NEU even thanked the Welsh Government for the ‘constructive way in which they have conducted negotiations’, proving that amicable and productive working relationships between unions and the government are possible.

However, negotiations over NHS pay have been less conclusive in Wales, with unions narrowly voting to accept the latest offer apart from the nurse’s union who rejected the latest offer by the Welsh Government.

NHS workers in Wales are to be given an additional 3% pay increase for 2022-23 and £1,400 to all staff.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing voted overwhelmingly to reject the latest offer, following this announcement the Welsh government reopened negotiations with RCN Wales.

This is in contrast to the UK Government who have held firm that their latest pay offers are ‘final’ and seem averse to further negotiations should their latest deal be rejected.

Commenting after the RCN’s pay rejection in Scotland Helen Whyley, Director RCN Wales said: “The Health Minister confirms that she is hopeful that negotiations commencing next week will arrive at a mutually agreed and fair resolution that would also resolve RCN Wales’ dispute.”

The salary of an experienced nurse in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has fallen in real terms by 20% and 16% in Scotland.

Nurses in England have already been left behind in pay disputes as Westminster held off on pay negotiations longer than Scotland and Wales, seeing nurses in England loose pay for their strike days.

It would seem England’s devolved neighbours are setting an example for the UK government on how to manage industrial disputes and acknowledge the crisis in our public services.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

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