19 July 2010

We had clear warnings: Conservative localisation would mean the end of mandatory national pay schemes. I explored this forecast in my posts Tories eye benefits and wages in Cornwall and Vote Tory today, cry tomorrow.

Now the NHS white paper Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS (July 2010) sets out the Tory Libdem plans in paragraph 4.36:

“In future, all individual employers will have the right, as foundation trusts have now, to determine pay for their own staff. However, it is likely that many providers will want to continue to use national contracts as a basis for their local terms and conditions.”

All individual employers include all hospitals and GPs. What will happen in Cornwall? Will local pay in the NHS here fall below national benchmarks or will they stick with national pay rates?

Cornwall is a low-pay county; average pay here is lower than in England and the UK generally (see the ASHE data and the mudhook post Cornwall data). That makes national NHS pay rates in Cornwall vulnerable to local competitive impact, that is, low pay here outside the NHS might draw down Cornwall NHS pay below national benchmarks. Staff costs are a significant part of any NHS budget.

Pay in the Tory-Libdem new academies and free schools will be set by the school not nationally; it could be more or less than the national benchmarks. Which public pay is the next to be ‘liberated’?