People have been reacting to the news that the government is giving some HMRC staff a pay rise. Understandably, they’ve been making comparisons to NHS staff’s 1% increase. But as some people have said on social media – we shouldn’t begrudge HMRC staff a decent raise.
That 13% HMRC pay rise
The FDA is the trade union for “professionals and managers in public service”. It recently wrote about the government pay deal for some HMRC staff. The FDA said that talks on this pay deal started in July 2020 and now the government and trade unions have reached a deal. The FDA said this was:
a three-year deal giving an average pay award of 13% across the term. A 3% increase would be awarded in March 2021 (backdated to June 2020), followed by a 5% increase in June 2021 and a 5% increase in June 2022.
It wasn’t just the FDA which was involved. Other bodies such as the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union were too. But some people on social media are upset about it. This is because the Tories are only giving NHS staff 1%:
How on Earth can the government justify a 13% pay rise for HMRC staff while insulting NHS staff with a derisory 1%?
And how comes hardly anyone knows about the 13% increase?
Sneaky and callous.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) March 7, 2021
HMRC staff receiving a 13% pay rise
Anyone else abit annoyed that NHS staff only got a 1% increase?
— Labour front 🌹 (@LeftWingAgency) March 7, 2021
But people also made important points. Lina said:
I don’t think the argument should be that HMRC staff aren’t deserving of pay rises, but nurses are, it should be give them both pay rises
— •𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗔• (@agirlcalledlina) March 7, 2021
And another user pointed out:
HMRC payrise has nothing to do with the pandemic it's to correct 10 years of pay freezes and is coming from existing HMRC budget so is not costing the govt any additional money. It's also over 3 years. 3% backdated to 2020. 5% 2021. 5% 2023. Really not a big rise when broken down
— danny (@soberdobber) March 7, 2021
Divide and conquer
Moreover, people pointed out that it plays into the Tories’ divide and conquer agenda, among other things:
Perhaps an ulterior motive of the government's 1% pay rise for NHS staff and 13% for HMRC staff is to play the politics of divide and conquer so that the NHS will be easier to privatise.
— Katy (@KatyJayne101) March 7, 2021
This is the game. Treat people with varying degrees of unfairness, and encourage them to resent each other for it.
— Old Git (@toooldforit) March 7, 2021
Of course, in reality most public sector staff have seen their real terms pay take a hit since 2010. As Unison pointed out, the cost of living (inflation) in the last decade rose by 35.6%. It noted that:
The average public sector worker has seen an even steeper 14% decline in the value of their wages. For the public sector worker who has not benefited from any incremental progression in their pay, the cut has been 18%, leaving their 2020 wage over £6,800 down on the value of their earnings in 2009 and the accumulated loss from their wage failing to keep pace with inflation each year standing at over £53,307.
So, HMRC staff’s 13% rise across three years barely makes up for a lost decade.
Scraps off the Tories’ table
Meanwhile, as one Twitter user said, the situation for nurses is dire:
• Given £3.50 a week rise in pay
• But a £1.76 a week rise in tax from Apr 2022
• Inflation to rise by £7.00 a week
By next April, nurses will be £5.26 a week worse off. A real terms deduction of £270 from their wages.
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) March 7, 2021
And let’s not forget the “inadequate” £20 Universal Credit uplift. Nor must we ignore the millions of legacy benefit claimants who haven’t got any increase at all. The number of households living in destitution more than doubled in 2020. But never mind. Because while all this was going on, Boris Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings got a 40% pay rise in 2020. And MPs, meanwhile, got an “inflation-busting” 3.1% pay rise, bringing their annual salary close to an eye-watering £82k.
So we shouldn’t be angry at other workers earning more money. Our anger should be directed at a system and its gatekeepers which allow so many people to live in poverty in the first place. HMRC staff getting scraps off the Tories’ table is the thin end of the wage crisis wedge.
Featured image via DPP Law – Flickr
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