Government and Agenda for Change trade unions ‘offer in principle’

Details of the government's revised pay offer for staff on Agenda for Change contracts for 2022/23 and 2023/24.

16 March 2023

Following a special NHS Staff Council meeting that took place on 16 March, the government confirmed to the Agenda for Change (AfC) trade unions and employers the details of a revised pay offer for 2022/23 and a proposal for a headline recurrent pay award uplift 2023/24.  

Details of the ‘offer in principle’ 

The offer is made up of the following three parts which are detailed below.

Details of this pay offer can also be found in this NHS 'offer in principle' slide deck and in this pay offer poster.

Update 2 May 2023 - The NHS Staff Council has accepted the pay offer. Read further details, including a joint statement from the NHS Staff Council.

Developed by the Department of Health and Social Care, these frequently asked questions (FAQs) provide clarifying advice on pay, eligibility and the offer.

  • There are two components to the non-consolidated award:

    • a 2 per cent non-consolidated payment to all staff
    • a tiered cash payment depending on which of 5 tiers staff are in (with an average value of 4 per cent).
    The percentage component and backlog bonus are added together to give the total non-consolidated payment received that links to 2022/23.
    As the award is non-consolidated, this means it is a one-off payment, which is non-pensionable and does not feed into the calculation for additional earnings.
    NHS TCS non-consolidated award 2022/23
  • The proposed consolidated pay award consists of:

    • a consolidated payment to all staff of 5 per cent
    • plus further investment to uplift the Band 1 spot rate and the entry point for Band 2 to the top of Band 2 (an increase of 10.4 per cent).  This will see entry-level pay in the NHS increase to £11.45 per hour.

    The 2023/24 pay award is consolidated, meaning that it is a pensionable payment, which feeds into the calculation for additional earnings.

    The proposed new 2023/24 entry level rate of pay in band 2 compares favourably with both the National Living Wage rate (set to change to £10.42 per hour from 1 April 2023) and the current real Living Wage rate of £10.90 per hour. 

    It is also a significant uplift on the current 2022/23 entry level rate of pay (£10.37 as at March 2023) in band 2.

    Table image showing proposed 2023/24 consolidated award payments across bands
  • The non-pay measure outlined by government includes:

    Support to nursing staff: the government wants to address some specific challenges around recruitment, retention and career development and will work with employers and trade unions to improve opportunities for nursing career progression.

    Building a workforce for the futureLater this year, NHS England will publish a comprehensive NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. The government will set out how this will be implemented, to ensure the NHS can recruit and retain the staff it needs in the future to meet the growing and changing health and wellbeing needs of patients.

    This will support the government’s ambition to reduce reliance on agency workers and bring down agency spend as a proportion of NHS budgets. The government, employers and trade unions are committed to working in partnership to help deliver this aim. As part of its 2023/24 work programme, the NHS Staff Council will consider the factors which are driving increasing rates of agency spend in the NHS, making recommendations on the practical measures that can be taken to reduce this. 
    To meet the growing and changing needs of patients, and provide safe and high-quality care, an effective NHS needs clinical services – such as nursing, midwifery, allied health professional and ambulance staff - to have appropriate staffing levels. As part of the work to implement the upcoming NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, the government will ask NHS England to review the existing arrangements used to make sure that there are sufficient staff. This will include developing a national evidence-based policy framework building on existing safe staffing arrangements. The government will also look at approaches taken in other parts of the UK and relevant international comparators to ensure this framework is informed by best practice, focusing on key groups such as registered nurses, including both statutory and non-statutory models. 

    Career development and support: the government has heard the concerns on career development and progression for NHS staff. The government wants to address these issues and will work with employers and unions to improve career development in three ways: 

    • Agree amendments to terms and conditions to ensure that existing NHS staff will not suffer a detriment to their basic pay when they undertake apprenticeships.
    • Improving support for newly qualified healthcare registrants, commissioning NHS England to review the support those transitioning from training into practice receive.
    • The NHS Staff Council will consider how the work to maintain and update national Job Profiles undertaken by the Job Evaluation Group can be applied fairly and appropriately to aid career development. 

    Pay setting process: the government is committed to ensuring that the pay setting process and the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) operates effectively. As part of this process, it will take the views of employers and trade unions into account and will:

    • review the timing and appointment process for the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB)
    • look at ways for the NHS Staff Council to have greater input into NHSPRB
    • identify ways to reduce the duplication of data on the NHS workforce and labour market provided by parties to the NHSPRB.

    Tackling violence and aggression: the government will ask the existing groups established in the NHS Social Partnership Forum working on violence reduction to work with the health and wellbeing group of the NHS Staff Council to identify ways to tackle and reduce violence against NHS staff.

    Pension abatement: in October 2022, the government extended the suspension of NHS pension abatement rules for special class status members. This extension is currently planned to run until March 2025; to support retention measures, the government's intention is to make this easement permanent, and they will consult on this change shortly.

    Cap for redundancy payments: in its 2023/24 work programme, the NHS Staff Council will consider the application of a cap to redundancy payments of £100,000 and over.

Next steps

The Agenda for Change (AfC) trade unions are now consulting with their memberships on the 'in principle offer’ made by the government. The dates of these consultations can be found on this web page. Employers are encouraged to support staff that are members of AfC trade unions to engage with the consultation process.

Staff can be directed to frequently asked questions (FAQs), produced with the Department of Health and Social Care, for more information, including the eligibility criteria for the offer.

During the period of consultation, and pending of any final decisions from their members, the AfC trade unions have agreed to continue with the pausing of all planned industrial action.  

Further information about nursing staff

Separately to the ‘offer in principle’ above, the government has agreed with the RCN its commitment to address the specific challenges faced by nursing staff in terms of recruitment, retention and professional development.

This will mean working with NHS Employers and all agenda for change trade unions over the next year to consider whether a separate pay spine for nursing might be established. 

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