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'The time is up': Promises to lift pay cap from Scottish government

The Scottish government has indicated it plans to lift the pay cap, according to the finance secretary

The Scottish government has indicated it plans to lift the pay cap, according to the finance secretary.

In response to the UK Parliament’s voting-down of a Queen’s speech amendment which would have lifted the pay cap, the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) Derek Mackay said ‘the time is up’ for the 1% cap on pay rises which has kept nurses’ wages below inflation for seven years.

READ MORE: 'Bitter disappointment' as MPs vote to keep the pay cap

While the Scottish government can make its own decisions on nurses’ pay, it has largely toed with the line set by the Conservative government in Westminster until now. A lifting of the cap was one of the promises the SNP made in its manifesto during the election in May.

Mr Mackay said to MSPs at Holyrood: ‘The Scottish government will take into account inflation in the future pay policy. We will take a reasonable approach that absolutely recognises that the time is up for the 1% pay cap. Not only will the SNP commit to that, but we will do it.’

READ MORE: More sick days taken than ever as nurses 'feel the strain' of budget limitations

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has been staging protest action in opposition to the cap and threatened to ballot its members on a strike if it was not lifted. On 29 June, there was confusion in Westminster as indications that the Tories were considering lifting the cap were batted down by Downing Street press staff.

Director for RCN Scotland Theresa Fyffe said: ‘The 1% cap on nursing pay which has been in place since 2010 has seen nursing staff struggle to meet ends meet. Balancing the NHS’ books on the shoulders of staff has been a political decision – and it’s one that needs to change.

READ MORE: 'Summer of protest' begins with nurses engaged in nationwide action

‘Pay is a way in which governments can reflect the value which they place on nursing. But getting pay right will also help to tackle the significant challenges which Scotland is facing around the recruitment and retention of nursing staff.’

The UK government has said it will listen to the NHS Pay Review Body’s advice when next considering policy on nurses’ pay for their Autumn budget.