UK employers plan biggest pay rises in nearly 10 years amid surging inflation

The Bank of England is monitoring the labour market as it considers how much more interest rates need to rise. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - British employers expect to raise staff pay by the most in nearly 10 years but the 3 per cent wage deals for workers would still be below fast-rising inflation, according to a survey published on Monday (Feb 14).

With the Bank of England (BOE) fearing a wage-price spiral from Britain's tight labour market, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggested that companies were not breaking the bank to counter their recruitment problems.

Planned median annual pay settlements in 2022, including by private and public employers, rose to 3 per cent from 2 per cent three months earlier, the highest since the CIPD started using its current methodology in the winter of 2012/2013.

The BOE is monitoring the labour market as it considers how much more interest rates need to rise from their all-time, coronavirus-emergency low.

The central bank raised borrowing costs in December and earlier this month as it forecast that consumer price inflation would peak at about 7.25 per cent in April and average at 5.75 per cent over 2022.

It forecast that earnings for workers would go up by 3.75 per cent this year, leaving households facing their biggest post-inflation income squeeze in 30 years.

The BOE was also influenced by its own survey of employers that showed businesses planned pay settlements of close to 5 per cent in 2022 - a much bigger average pay rise than other surveys have shown to date.

"Even though businesses anticipate making record pay awards to their employees this year, most people are set to see their real wages fall against the backdrop of high inflation," CIPD economist Jonathan Boys said.

More employers were providing flexible working, training and support for staff health and well-being as alternative ways to keep and hire staff, potentially reducing wage pressures.

"However, the UK government must also address skills policy failings to support greater employer investment in workforce training," Mr Boys said, calling for an overhaul of Britain's apprenticeship levy to make it more flexible.

The survey showed that 70 per cent of employers planned to recruit in the first quarter of 2022 and only 11 per cent planned redundancies.

Almost half the employers reported having problems filling their vacancies and two-thirds expected similar problems in the next six months.

More than four-fifths of employers planned a pay review in 2022; and of them, 40 per cent expected basic pay to increase, 7 per cent expected a pay freeze and 1 per cent expected a decrease.

The CIPD surveyed 1,006 employers between Jan 6 and Jan 30.

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