Freezing the pay of millions of public sector workers

21 Nov, 2020

Freezing the pay of millions of public sector workers – including police officers – would show how hollow any words of praise from politicians about their work combatting Covid-19 have been, Cheshire Police Federation has said.

It has been widely reported today that the Government is considering announcing a public sector pay freeze in next week’s Spending Review to cover the UK’s deficit in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown.

Jamie Thompson, Chairman of Cheshire Police Federation, said: “We must be conscious of the fact that this pandemic has caused significant harm to our economy but to keep taking from the public sectors pocket is not a solution.

“Police officers have only just started to see any meaningful pay increases for the first time since 2010. In real terms we have suffered an 18% pay cut over the past decade and now we are potentially facing even further real term cuts.

“And this is against a backdrop of ministers openly praising the work of the police and other public sectors. Those words do feel somewhat hollow now. If they truly support us, show that support by ensuring that our pay does not go backwards once again.”

During the last recession, from 2011, public sector workers were subjected to a pay freeze and then a pay cap for a number of years.

This resulted in an 18% real-terms pay cut for hard working police officers.

Police Federation of England and Wales National Chairman John Apter said today: “During the pandemic, the Government has thanked and celebrated members of the public sector; to freeze their pay and penalise these same workers would be morally bankrupt, unforgivable and a betrayal.”

“Yes we’re in tough times, but this would be extremely damaging for those very key workers the Government has applauded over the past several months.

“After [nearly] a decade of public sector pay freezes/caps, this would be an unforgivable decision if it were to happen, the Government must stop and think before doing this.”

When questioned, the Treasury declined to comment on the reports but pointed to language used by Rishi Sunak in a letter about the Spending Review in July.

The letter outlined that in the “interest of fairness we must exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards, ensuring that across this year and the spending review period, public sector pay levels retain parity with the private sector”.

It has been said that nurses and doctors will be exempt from the future pay freeze.

In 2020, police officers received a 2.5% pay rise.