Public Sector Workers Set for Pay Rise.
Public sector workers set for pay rise, says Sunak. Millions of public sector workers are set to see their wages rise next year after the government confirmed their pay freeze is being lifted.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will use his Budget on Wednesday to say nurses, teachers and members of the armed forces are among those set to benefit. A “temporary pause” in salary progression was introduced last November as a response to the pandemic.
Labour says tax and price rises mean families face a cost of living crisis.
Separately, campaigners for a freeze in fuel duty have been told to expect the tax to be frozen for a twelfth year in a row at Wednesday’s Budget.
The BBC has also been told VAT on household energy would not be cut with the Treasury arguing it would be poorly targeted and that lower income households could be better helped through other schemes.
The public sector pay freeze was part of the government’s response to what it described as the “economic emergency” caused by Covid, with only the lowest-paid excluded.
In his spending review in November 2020, Mr Sunak said he could not justify an across-the-board increase when many in the private sector had seen their pay and hours cut in the crisis.
He said the pandemic had forced ministers to take extraordinary measures to protect people’s jobs and incomes by “targeting our resources at those who need it most”.
The Treasury said exactly how much of a pay rise public sector workers receive depends on the recommendations from the independent pay review bodies, who set the pay for most frontline workforces – including nurses, police officers, prison officers and teachers.
In an announcement on Monday, the Treasury said the chancellor would use his forthcoming Budget to say “the solid economic recovery and encouraging signs in the labour market” mean the “pay pause” can be lifted.
In a statement, Mr Sunak said: “The economic impact and uncertainty of the virus meant we had to take the difficult decision to pause public sector pay.
“Along with our plan for jobs, this action helped us protect livelihoods at the height of the pandemic.
“And now, with the economy firmly back on track, it’s right that nurses, teachers and all the other public sector workers who played their part during the pandemic see their wages rise.”
Business Minister Paul Scully said it was “important public sector workers are recognised for what they do and are rewarded fairly”. He said it was part of a number of measures to help people on low incomes, which also included the rise in the national living wage announced on Monday.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We know there are pressures. We know this is a difficult time for the economy, for people in the country in terms of the cost of living.”
The Treasury said the “temporary pause” had helped ensure the gap between public and private sector pay did not widen further during the height of the pandemic. It said public sector average weekly earnings rose by 4.5% in 2020/21 whilst private sector wage increases were a third lower than they were pre-crisis, at 1.8%.
Ministers will be “running a full pay round and the awards will be announced next year once government responds to the pay review bodies’ recommendations”, the Treasury added.