PM statement on public sector pay review: 13 July 2023

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak makes a speech on the public sector pay review

The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP

Watch Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set out his fair and responsible decision on Public Sector Pay

When making decisions on pay, as your Prime Minister, I have a responsibility to be fair.

Fair to public sector workers, who do so much in the service of our country.

But also fair to taxpayers, who ultimately fund our public services.

And the best way we’ve found of making fair decisions about public sector pay…

…are the independent Pay Review Bodies.

They were called for by the Unions themselves.

And for over four decades, they have been the independent arbiters of what is fair and responsible.

Those bodies have considered a range of evidence about where to set this year’s pay.

And their recommendations to government are for public sector pay to go up by a significant amount.

Now clearly, this will cost all of you, as taxpayers, more than we had budgeted for.

That’s why the decision has been difficult and why it has taken time to decide the right course of action.

I can confirm that today we’re accepting the headline recommendations of the Pay Review Bodies in full.

But we will not fund them by borrowing more or increasing your taxes.

It would not be right to increase taxes on everyone to pay some people more, particularly when household budgets are so tight.

Neither would it be right to pay for them by higher borrowing…

…because higher borrowing simply makes inflation worse.

Instead, because we only have a fixed pot of money to spend from…

…that means government departments have had to find savings and efficiencies elsewhere…

…in order to prioritise paying public sector workers more.

And now there is a clear message here.

There are always choices.

Budgets are not infinite.

When some ask for higher pay, that will always create pressures elsewhere…

…costs which must be ultimately be borne by the taxpayer, or by spending less on our other priorities.

So that’s our decision.

And having honoured the independent pay review process…

…I urge all union leaders to accept these pay offers and call off their strikes.

Already, earlier this year, the NHS staff council…

…representing over half a dozen unions, and over a million NHS workers…

…made a significant decision, and voted to accept their our pay offer and suspend strikes.

I’m grateful to them and their members.

And today, in response to the news of our decision, I’m pleased to say that we’ve had another major breakthrough.

All teaching unions have just announced that they’re suspending all planned strikes immediately.

Teachers will return to the classroom.

Disruption to our children’s education will end.

And the unions have themselves confirmed that this pay offer is properly funded.

And so, they’re recommending to their members an end to the entire dispute.

So it is now clear: momentum across our public services is shifting.

The vast majority, who just want to get on with their life’s calling of serving others, are now returning to work.

And in that spirit, I want to address those yet to do so.

Now that we’ve honoured the independent pay recommendations, I implore you:

Do the right thing, and know when to say yes.

In particular, for Doctors and Consultants, I would say this:

We have a national mission for all of us to make the NHS strong again.

The government has not only made today’s decision on pay…

We’ve backed the NHS with record funding…

Delivered the first ever, fully funded Long-Term Workforce Plan…

… and met the BMA’s number one ask of government, with a pensions tax cut worth £1bn.

So, we should all ask ourselves, whether Union leaders - or indeed political leaders…

…how it can it be right to continue disruptive industrial action?

Not least because these strikes lead to tens of thousands of appointments being cancelled - every single day…

…and waiting lists going up, not down.

So: today’s offer is final.

There will be no more talks on pay.

We will not negotiate again on this year’s settlements.

And no amount of strikes will change our decision.

Instead, the settlement we’ve reached today gives us a fair way to end the strikes.

A fair deal for workers.

And a fair deal for the British taxpayer.

Thank you.

Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP