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Wednesday 25 November 2020

FDA response to the public sector pay ‘pause’

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The FDA has criticised the government’s decision to ‘pause’ public sector pay for 2021-22, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in today’s Spending Review.

Sunak’s language suggested it would be a temporary measure, but FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said that members “will have no confidence” that this will indeed be the case, as the Spending Review document offered “no detail on how or when this will come to an end”.

The Spending Review reads: “In order to protect jobs and ensure fairness, pay rises in the public sector will be restrained and targeted in 2021-22. Given the unique impact of COVID-19 on the health service, and despite the challenging economic context, the government will continue to provide for pay rises for over 1 million NHS workers... The government will also prioritise the lowest paid, with 2.1 million public sector workers earning less than £24,000 receiving a minimum £250 increase.

“For the rest of the public sector the government will pause pay rises in 2021-22… Pausing headline pay awards next year for some workforces will allow the government to protect public sector jobs and investment in public services to respond to spending pressures from Covid-19. It will also avoid further expansion of the gap between public and private sector reward.”

Penman rejected the government’s justification, highlighting that civil servants “have gone above and beyond to support the government response to COVID-19” and arguing that freezing their pay “shows just how little the government values their hard work”.

In his full statement, the FDA General Secretary said: “To govern is to choose. In a year where the government has wasted millions on botched PPE procurement deals and somehow found the funds to establish a new Space Command, it has chosen to reward the public sector workers who have been at the forefront of the pandemic response with yet another year of frozen pay.
 
“Public sector pay is still lower in real terms than in 2010, due to a decade of pay freezes and restraint. Despite the Prime Minister’s proclamation that there would be no return to austerity, that is demonstrably not the case for the majority of the public sector workforce.
 
“The Chancellor has referred to this as a pay ‘pause’ but with absolutely no detail on how or when this will come to an end, our members will have no confidence that this will indeed be a temporary measure.
 
“Civil servants have gone above and beyond to support the government response to COVID-19, from delivering the furlough scheme to more than nine million workers to processing a 90% increase in Universal Credit claims. This announcement shows just how little the government values their hard work.”

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