Thursday, 21 September, 2017

Government backs down over pay freeze for public sector workers

Claire Sullivan at TUC 2016 Police and prison officers' pay cap to be lifted, No 10 says
Christy Curtis | 13 September, 2017, 01:23

Prison officers will get a 1.7% rise while police will get a 1% pay rise plus a 1% bonus for the year, paid for from existing departmental budgets.

The public sector pay cap was finally killed off by the government today - with police getting 2 per cent extra and prison staff 1.7 per cent this year.

She told Sky News: "We have had a policy for seven years of a public sector pay cap, that's been very effective at helping us reach our deficit targets".

Prison officers will also get a rise beyond the one per cent public sector pay cap.

Despite the TUC and other union groups greeting the announcement with much chagrin, Liberal Democrat party leader Sir Vince Cable said, "It is good to see the government finally recognise that the public sector pay cap is no longer sustainable".

"They added: "The government takes a balanced approach to public spending, dealing with our debts while also investing in our public service", adding the decision recognises the vital contribution our public service workers make. while also being affordable".

The highly-respected Institute for Fiscal Studies said giving all public sector workers a five per cent pay rise would cost a staggering £7.2bn a year.

The higher increases for police and prison officers, which are backdated to 1 September, are based on the most recent recommendations of independent pay review bodies.

Martin Plummer, chairman of the county's police federation, said the move - announced by the Government today - was a step in the right direction.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss said review bodies and departments were being given greater leeway to use pay to address "pinch points" within public sector staffing.

He called on the TUC to coordinate collective action and campaigns, including industrial action, to end public sector pay restraint across the UK.

The newly-announced rises are still below the level of inflation, which measured by the Consumer Prices Index rose to 2.9%, from 2.6%, in August.

Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary, labeled the below inflation pay offer "pathetic".

"Police officers do not join the service to make huge amounts of money, they do it out of a sense of duty and this year in particular have been tested to the max", Mr White said.

But the national prison officers' union said the pay rise was actually a pay cut in real terms. "Officers have been taking home about 15% less than they were seven years ago".

The 1 per cent cap has been in place since 2013, and the coalition had imposed a freeze before that.

Leaders of unions representing millions of workers said they will continue campaigning for wage rises.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "We must commit to marching, demonstrating and lobbying - not just in Westminster, but in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh too".

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