A pay increase for all public sector workers, both in our constituency and across the country, is fair and affordable. Public sector workers have been subject to years of falling real wages and I do not believe that this is sustainable.
I will be joining colleagues to press the Chancellor to make the resources available in the forthcoming Budget to lift the pay cap on public sector workers.
A report published by the Office of Manpower Economics in July found that real earnings have fallen since 2010 and remained below their 2005 level in 2015. The report states that the decline in earnings from 2010 coincides with the wage freeze imposed on public sector pay settlements by government in 2011-2013 and the average 1 per cent rise in 2014-15.
On September 12, the government announced a partial lift of the 1 per cent pay cap for police and prison officers. This will come as cold comfort for other public sector workers who the government has ignored and will face even steeper pay cuts on top of what they have lost since 2010. Furthermore, with inflation now at 2.9 per cent, the reality is that the government is still going ahead with a pay cut in real terms for police and prison officers.
I recently supported an Opposition motion in the House of Commons which called on the government to end the pay cap. The motion was passed without a vote, meaning MPs have been unanimous in saying that the government should now end the pay cap and give public sector workers a fair pay rise. On October 10, the Health Secretary told the House of Commons the ‘pay cap has been scrapped, yet there has been no confirmation of any extra funding.
I stood on a manifesto at the General Election that pledged to end the public sector pay cap and make a return to public sector pay being agreed through collective bargaining and the evidence of independent pay review bodies.
I will continue to press the government to lift the pay cap so that public sector workers are paid at a level which recognises the skill and dedication which they bring to their jobs.