MEP backs NHS pay demand during visit to King’s Lynn hospital

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Hundreds of people in West Norfolk have joined a national campaign to scrap the pay cap for public service workers.

Around 300 people have so far signed the Unison Pay Up Now petition at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn.

And the region’s Labour MEP, Alex Mayer, visited the Gayton Road site on Friday to lend her support to the campaign, which will be the subject of a Parliamentary debate on December 4.

She said: “We’re hearing a lot of warm words from the government but we need to see the money.

“People agree our public sector workers deserve a pay rise. It’s been seven years without a substantial pay increase.”

The campaign follows last month’s announcement by the government that the cap on NHS pay is to be lifted.

But, so far, there has been no indication of whether additional funding will be made available to meet the cost.

Petitioners want the chancellor, Philip Hammond, to allocate extra money for staff pay awards in next week’s autumn Budget.

Ms Mayer said: “It’s no good taking money away from one part of the NHS to give some people a pay rise.

“We’re the fifth largest economy in the world and we need NHS staff to be treated fairly. Big business bosses’ pay has recovered from the financhial crash, but it hasn’t here.

“We hear heartbreaking stories of people in the public sector who haven’t got enough money to live on.

Campaigners say that, although public sector pay rose by 4.4 per cent between 2010 and 2016, the cost of things like childcare, housing, energy and transport all rose by between 20 and 30 per cent over the same period.

Union officials say they are aware of staff being forced to use Foodbanks to help them make ends meet.

Overall, the Unison petition has been signed by more than 144,000, comfortably in excess of the 100,000 threshold that triggers a Parliamentary debate.

A government response, published on the petition website, said it was moving towards a “more flexible approach” to public sector pay.

But it said specific pay awards would only be announced after independent pay review bodies deliver their reports in the spring.

It added: “We still need to deal with our country’s debts to ensure we have a strong economy to enable us to invest in our public services.

“This means that we will continue to take a balanced approach to public spending.

“The Government will consider each specific workforce to ensure pay is set so that we can continue to both attract and hold on to the excellent staff that support our world-leading public services.”