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The Somerset Guardian, 6th March 2024

Democratic accountability improves the work of government. It is why democracy has come to be seen as the best system of ruling. Governing is not easy and, irrespective of the party in power, governments will make mistakes.

This is why it is so important for Members of Parliament (MPs) to use all Parliamentary resources and time to represent their constituents and hold the Executive to account.

There are a number of ways that MPs can do this.  Mostly, I write to the Ministers to bring constituents' concerns to their attention and usually egregious errors are corrected.  However, sometimes, this is insufficient so I submit Parliamentary Questions, which I raise on the floor of the House.

This week, I asked a question on behalf of all the constituents who have recently written to me about the Agenda for Change pay deal.  These constituents work for an organisation called HCRG, which provides the NHS with staff.

Previously, the Government agreed a deal with the unions so that a bonus payment and an increase equivalent to 2.5% of the prior year’s earnings would be given to those working for all state-owned parts of the NHS. Yet, those who worked for non-state bodies, such as HCRG, would not be entitled to this financial reward and HCRG was responsible for finding this money to give bonuses and pay increases.

After lobbying the Government, non-state bodies were told that they would receive the same privilege but this was quickly reneged on. Instead, companies that were performing poorly would be subsidised by the Government to ensure that the bonuses and increases were honoured but those who were doing well financially would receive no such support.

This is a perverse incentive as it penalises those who are doing well, placing unfair burden on NHS providers like HCRG. I have received an assurance from the Minister that this will be reviewed by the end of the financial year but will keep pushing in order to guarantee that there is equality across the board and the Government upholds its agreement.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance:

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