Nicola Sturgeon announces pay rise for NHS staff
The increase will apply to all NHS staff in Scotland working under Agenda for Change and earning up to £80,000
Image credit: David Anderson
NHS staff in Scotland are to get a pay rise of three per cent from next month, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon announced in her speech to the party’s spring conference.
Sturgeon said the £160m investment would mean that a nurse in Band 5 with five years’ experience would be £430 better off, a healthcare assistant at the top of Band 3 would be £630 better off and an auxiliary nurse with a year’s experience more than £830 better off after tax in Scotland than in England.
The increase will apply to all NHS staff in Scotland working under Agenda for Change and earning up to £80,000.
Agenda for Change is the national pay system for all NHS staff, excluding doctors, dentists and senior managers.
In her speech, the SNP leader also announced an increase of over £21m in financial support for university and college students.
The package of measures includes £5.5m to increase the bursary for care-experienced students in further and higher education to £8,100, bringing the support available in line with the Scottish living wage.
Sturgeon said the increase for young people who had been in care was “an issue very close to my heart”.
A further £16m will be invested next year to increase college bursaries and university grants for students from the lowest income families and to expand access to them.
The repayment threshold for student loans will also be raised to £25,000 from April 2021, while the maximum repayment period for student loans will be lowered from 35 to 30 years from this year.
Further details will be announced by education minister Shirley-Ann Somerville before the summer, Sturgeon said.
In the speech Sturgeon also announced that the Building Scotland Fund is now open for business, with £70m to be invested in this financial year.
Of that, £20m will support R&D projects and digital innovation, £25m new low carbon industrial facilities and £25m will be used for 3,000 new homes, over and above the 50,000 commitment in the SNP manifesto.
Sturgeon also confirmed that carer’s allowance will be increased by £500 from this summer, backdated to April, and that 750 nurseries across Scotland would be “built, expanded or refurbished” by the 2021.
She said: “In countries across the world, social democracy appears to be in retreat.
“And many long established political norms are now in a state of flux.
“For progressive parties like ours, that makes it more important than ever to focus on what makes a difference.
“And to stand up for what we believe in.
“Sometimes that means taking on powerful interests and making tough decisions.
“And that’s what we do.
“We are the party with the courage in government to ask people who can afford it, to pay a bit more in income tax to protect our precious public services.
“And we should be proud of that.”
The increase in student support has been welcomed by the NHS.
NUS Scotland President, Luke Humberstone, said: “There is much to welcome in today’s announcements, which build on the commitment to free tuition, and represent important first steps to delivering a new deal for Scotland’s students.
“We now look forward to looking at the detail of the government’s full response to the student support review, and the timescales attached to it.”
However, the Scottish Conservatives accused the SNP leader of using domestic matters as a “warm-up” to independence.
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “This was yet another speech where Nicola Sturgeon’s domestic responsibilities are a warm-up to the main act – banging on about independence.
“Bizarrely, despite claiming education was her top priority, she forgot to mention it altogether. Nor was there any mention of how to sort out our criminal justice system.
“She is out of touch and leading a divided party. This was a tired speech from a leader running out of time.”
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