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Page last updated at 09:21 GMT, Monday, 23 April 2012 10:21 UK

Should public service pay be regional?


Britain's biggest public sector trade union, Unison, is submit evidence to the NHS pay review body, objecting to government plans to change the pay rates of public sector workers, including NHS staff, to reflect regional differences.

Christina McAnea, Unison's head of health, told the Today programme's John Humphrys that "it is over simplistic to say you have low cost areas" because food, fuel, gas and electricity are "often higher" in other parts of the country.

She also said that "the NHS Agenda for Change agreement already has those flexibilities built into it so it sets a floor for the pay in the NHS" which then is supplemented for those living in more expensive areas.

But Nick Seddon, deputy director of the independent think tank Reform, said that he did not think regional pay is the answer, maintaining that "it is a halfway house reform."

"National pay rates have caused inflation in pay in the health system and have not driven productivity in the way that was hoped for," he said.

But Christina McAnea disagreed and said the national pay rates have "allowed for stability" in the NHS and allowed it to recruit and retain high quality staff.

She said that the system already allows for flexibility but Nick Seddon insisted that these provisions are not used at a local level.

Christina McAnea said this would be a charter for job creation for HR... you would have a whole new level of bureaucracy.

But Nick Seddon said that in the private sector, there are far more bonus and incentive schemes and productivity is higher because "there is a greater degree of control within organisations over the way that they do things."

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