Public sector pay cap to be lifted

Trevor Jackson
September 13, 2017

Downing Street's announcement of a 2 per cent pay increase for police and 1.7 per cent for prison officers, along with its statement that it recognises the need for greater flexibility in public sector pay, was the death knell for the 1 per cent cap.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies reckons that an extra 1% pay for the entire public sector would cost about £1.8bn a year, although it would get some of that back in income tax and National Insurance.

However, Steve Gillan, head of the prison officers' union, has rejected the government's 1.7% offer, as it is lower than the current rate of inflation.

The 2017/18 awards will be funded from existing departmental budgets.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: "It is good to see the Government finally recognise that the public sector pay cap is no longer sustainable".

News reports published late on Sunday said ministers were expected to accept recommendations for bigger pay rises this week, paving the way for similar increases for other government employees in future.

Police will receive a 1% one-off "non-consolidated" bonus on top of their basic pay rise of 1% for 2017/18.

The Treasury announcement comes after weeks of speculation the five-year pay cap may be lifted in response to growing worries about its impact on staff recruitment and retention and morale in the public sector.

This was due to remain in place until 2019/20, but ministers have announced they are ready to show "flexibility" for next year.

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Last year, Britain passed tough laws which require a ballot turnout of more than 50 percent of union members for a strike to be legal, with even tighter restrictions for important public services such as health, transport, border security and fire sectors.

Public sector pay was frozen for two years in 2010, except for those earning less than £21,000 a year, and since 2013, rises have been capped at 1% - below the rate of inflation.

He added: "Public sector workers have suffered seven long years of real pay cuts, and are thousands of pounds worse off".

Len McCluskey warned the government co-ordinated industrial action on the issue was "very likely".

General Secretary for the Trades Union Congress, Frances O'Grady said: 'This below-inflation pay offer is pathetic.

He said: "A pay cut is a pay cut".

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "The pay cap must now be lifted across the whole public sector rather than by playing one group of workers off against another". At the weekend we were led to believe the pay cap was a thing of the past.

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".

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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