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Dispute over Dudley Council's NHS pay increase letter to Government

By Thomas Parkes | Dudley | News | Published:

A war of words has erupted between councillors over a letter to the Health Secretary calling for a pay rise for NHS workers.

Dudley Council

A cross-party letter was drawn up by Dudley Council to call on the Government minister to offer more support to frontline staff.

It was due to be signed by members of both parties to signify a united front in their call for more Government support for frontline care workers.

But Labour amendments to the letter – referring to "years of austerity" and a loss of £100 million for the council – were dismissed in their entirety.

Councillor Shaukat Ali, shadow cabinet member for health social care, said austerity – and the deaths of frontline workers due to the pandemic – had been branded "too political".

Council leader Councillor Patrick Harley said the opposition had tried to make "cheap political points" instead of building a consensus to pitch to Government.

Councillor Ali said: "I am shocked that the leader rejected all of our proposed amendments.

"The changes are based on fact and were intended to strengthen our case to the Government for the increase.

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"They include reference to the sacrifices that many frontline workers have made, including those who have died from Covid-19.

"We wanted to draw the Government's attention to the impact of austerity and the reduction in real terms in the incomes of existing NHS and care staff, some of whom have had to resort to using food banks and that the two to three per cent offered to other groups of workers making a similarly valuable contribution would not go far enough.

"We also wanted to make the case for a fairer funding deal for Dudley, which both parties are signed up to so I am not sure what is political about this or any other of our points."

'Shame'

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It has led to the Labour Group in the borough writing to the Government themselves due to the amendments being thrown out.

Councillor Harley, leader of the authority, said: "Councillor Ali never misses an opportunity to either score an own goal or make cheap political points at a time when both political groups had agreed to work together.

"Having requested the chief executive to draft a letter which both group leaderships would have signed, Labour decided to add many references to austerity and make the letter highly critical of this present Government.

"The facts are that under Boris`s leadership Dudley Council has had its best settlement for over 10 years. Under Boris austerity is over and it seems overtly political for Labour to make such claims when in the week the Government back a key project in the £14m funding of Very Light Rail.

"It's a shame that the united front to award Freedom of the Borough and the consensus to ask the Government to consider doing more for front line NHS staff has been hijacked by a lamentable opposition.

"Jeremy Corbyn may be gone but the Marxist tendencies are alive and well within Dudley Labour."

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Senior Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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