Pension proposals have been enhanced once again – this time in a bid to protect the low earning members of NHS staff.
The threshold for freezing pension contributions will be raised from £15,000 to £26,557 for 2012/13.
The move is claimed to affect 630,000 NHS staff, almost half of all those in the NHS Pension Scheme.
However, those earning more than £49,000 will still face a 2.4% increase in pension contributions come 2012/13.
It is also feared that senior NHS staff and high earners – including GPs – will be forced into potentially paying a much greater percentage to make up the shortfall.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the shift came as a result of “listening to staff and stakeholders”.
“These changes alone will not be enough to ensure that NHS pensions are affordable in the long term,” he said.
“We are continuing to discuss wider changes to pensions with Trades Unions and hope to reach an agreement by the end of the year.”
The British Medical Association (BMA) slammed the government for not raising the offer in any of the negotiation talks.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chair of the BMA Council, called it “ridiculous”.
“The majority of staff would be even worse off under this change,” he said.
“It is inconceivable that the government can claim to have come up with this idea ‘having listened to staff’.
“This announcement of an even steeper hike will intensify the anger [doctors] are already feeling.”
The “divisive and provocative” enhanced offer still means two thirds of nurses will face hikes in pension contributions, according to Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.
“Having to pay an average of an extra £30 a month on top of this is a deeply unwelcome surprise Christmas present from the Government,” he said.