A tweet which has been shared 10,000 times has made several claims about how starting salaries for police, teachers, nurses and MPs have changed since 2010.
Some of the numbers are wrong, but it’s correct that MPs’ wages have risen faster than the starting salaries for these other public sector professions.
Arguably what’s more important is looking at how far salaries go, by comparing them to the change in prices over time – inflation. While MPs have seen their salaries rise slightly faster than inflation, the other three professions’ starting salaries have not. That means that their pay packets go less far in 2020 than they did in 2010.
We have written about this topic before in relation to 2018 pay. You can find that here.
From September 2010, the starting salary for a new police constable was £23,300 in England and Wales. From September 2019, starting pay is £24,200.
Factoring in inflation, this amounts to a 14% real-terms reduction in pay.
Not all new constables will start at £24,200. The exact figure depends on skills and experience—those with “no qualifications” can be paid £20,900. This drop-in new starter wage was brought in from April 2013, after recommendations from the Winsor review into police pay and conditions.
These wages do not include the London weighting or benefits, like free travel for certain forces.
In 2010, the starting salary for teachers in England and Wales outside of London was £21,600. In 2020, for a newly qualified teacher, the figure is £24,400. Although this seems like a small increase, in real terms, the starting salary has decreased by 6%.
This pay scale does not include those in the London area and is for teachers in local authority-run schools. Academies and free schools don’t have to follow the government pay structure, but some chose to anyway. 52% of England’s full-time equivalent qualified teachers work at academies and free schools.
The tweet makes claims about the change in the average nurse salary, but the figures appear to refer to the change in starting salaries.
When nurses qualify they start on Band 5 of the NHS pay scale. In England, this was £21,200 in 2010 and £24,200 in January 2020. This amounts to a 5% decrease when factoring in inflation. This will rise to £24,900 for 2020/21.
Official data on average salaries isn’t published for nurses.
Nurses, along with other NHS staff, received pay rises in 2018.
In April 2010, MPs earned £65,700 and from April 2019 have earnt £79,500. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which sets the amount, calculates it based on changes in average earnings in the public sector.
Factoring in inflation, this amounts to a 2% increase in real terms.
To calculate the real-terms change in incomes, we have adjusted wages using the CPIH inflation measure, which includes housing costs. CPI (a similar measure that doesn’t include housing costs) is the inflation measure the government uses to measure inflation for things it tends to pay for (like pension contributions).
2010 salaries have been converted into today’s money using the difference between the most recent inflation index figures (December 2019) and the average index for the period during which the salary band was active.
For example, an MP’s salary was £65,700 between April 2010 and March 2011. During that time, £1 would have bought you the quantity of things that £1.19 would have bought you in December 2019, due to inflation. So we have calculated £65,700 in 2010 to be worth £78,500 now, by multiplying by 1.19.