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English band 8 and 9 staff now paid 12pc less than Scottish peers

Published on: 26 Jul 2023

Band 8 and 9 staff are typically being paid at least 11-13 per cent more in Scotland than in England, after several recent Agenda for Change pay deals have resulted in the gap significantly widening for senior staff, it has emerged.

Agenda for Change pay scales for 2023-24 show band 8a staff earn £50,952 at the first entry point in England compared to £56,992 across the border (see table below).

This represents an 11 per cent gap that increases to 13 per cent at band 8b – £58,972 to £67,285 – before declining slightly to 12 per cent at 8c and 8d. At band 9, this falls back to 11 per cent. 

Although the gap is considerably smaller at bands 5, 6 and 7, staff in Scotland still out-earn their counterparts in England (see table below).

Band 8s and 9s are also now allowed to receive overtime payments in Scotland, unlike in England.

The gap at higher bands has grown as a result of the details of several successive pay settlements from the English and Scottish governments.

A big part of the 2022-23 Agenda for Change pay settlement in England was a flat payment, which meant band 8s and 9s received a much lower proportionate increase than others, of around 1.3-2.6 per cent. This was not reversed in the subsequent AfC deal agreed, following industrial action, in the spring.

In contrast, in Scotland, ministers awarded relatively larger payments to bands 8b-9, and also gave band 8a a 5 per cent uplift last year. Then in negotiations earlier this year awarded larger consolidated uplifts than England, growing the gap further. 

Jon Restell, chief executive of the Managers in Partnership trade union, told HSJ that staff in Scotland “still share many of the same problems”, regarding their terms and conditions and career progression, when they progress up higher bands.

He said: “There are still too few incentives for band 7s seeking promotion to 8a due to a similarly modest pay increase in Scotland, which combined with the loss of certain pay additions, such as unsocial hours payments, leaves many questioning if their additional responsibilities and pressures are worth it.”

Band 8s and 9s are now permanently allowed to receive overtime payments in Scotland, which Mr Restell has welcomed, but he added further work was needed to make progression to band 8a “an attractive proposition” for NHS staff in Scotland.