Public sector workers’ wages, in real terms, are down thousands of pounds a year since 2010 as the result of UK Government pay restrictions. Prospect has highlighted that the average real terms pay cut has been 15%. It is time the human cost of the pay cap was recognised and dedicated civil servants were given the pay rise they deserve.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned in 2017 that without a pay rise the public sector will “struggle to recruit and retain the workers it needs to deliver public services, and the quality of those services will therefore be at risk”. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has stated that lifting the pay cap would bring higher tax receipts and lower welfare payments.
Although the UK Government has said it has removed the 1% pay cap, it gave a target of an average award of 1% to 1.5% in the 2018-19 civil service pay guidance. I can therefore appreciate the anger and frustration caused by the announcement of the pay increase for MPs from April 2019. The UK Government should listen to the civil service unions and Ministers should properly consult civil servants on their future pay.
Here in Scotland it is the Scottish Government who is responsible for the pay of civil and public servants in devolved areas. I believe Scotland’s hard-working civil servants deserve a pay rise to facilitate a much-needed increase in their living standards. That is why I welcomed the news back in September 2017 that the Scottish Government would scrap the public sector pay cap.
At the 2017 general election, I stood on a manifesto that pledged to lift the public sector pay cap and allocated money for that in its costings. It also pledged to raise the minimum wage to £10 per hour. This would benefit nearly half a million Scots.