UK: Sunak defends budget plans and insists 1% rise for NHS staff is fair

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(The Guardian)

Chancellor tells MPs that his decisions were made in response to £355bn budget deficit

Rishi Sunak has rejected criticism that his budget plans to repair the government’s finances after Covid-19 were unrealistic, and insisted a 1% pay rise for NHS staff is fair.

The chancellor said the pay offer, alongside plans for a wider public sector pay freeze, was “proportionate, fair and reasonable” given the damage to the government’s finances caused by the pandemic and as many workers in the private sector have lost their jobs.

Answering questions from MPs on the Commons Treasury committee on Thursday, Sunak said the process was being handled by the NHS pay review body but that it was a government decision to recommend the 1% increase. Ministers have insisted the nation could not afford a higher offer, sparking intense anger across the public sector.

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