The large number of letters and emails I have received on this issue highlights the strength of public concern about the public sector pay cap. Indeed, an online petition calling on the Government to end the public sector pay cap has been signed by more than 230,000 people.
I believe a pay rise 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.
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% rise in 2014-15.
On 12 September the Government announced a partial lift of the 1% 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%, the reality is that the Government is still going ahead with a pay cut in real terms for police and prison officers. Police and prison services will also have to fund this rise out of existing falling budgets which will inevitably lead to further cuts to front line services.
I 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 10 October the Health Secretary told the House of Commons the “pay cap has been scrapped”, yet there has been no confirmation of any extra funding.
At the General Election I stood on a manifesto 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.
Alongside my Labour colleagues 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.