Thank you for contacting me about public sector and local government pay.
I am grateful for the commitment and selflessness of public sector workers who have kept people safe and ensured vital services could continue during the coronavirus outbreak. Their work has been exemplary.
That is why I am glad that almost 900,000 public sectors workers received above-inflation pay rises in 2020. This included a 3.1 per cent pay rise for teachers, a 2.5 per increase for police and prison officers and a 2 per cent increase for members of the armed forces. Nurses are continuing to benefit from a separate scheme agreed in 2018. The Government ended the across-the-board 1 per cent cap on public sector pay rises in 2017 and for many this was the third successive year of pay rises.
The gap between the wages of those in the private sector and those in the public sector has increased significantly, however, since the start of the pandemic. According to the ONS, in the six months to September 2020, private sector wages decreased by 1 per cent. Public sector employees saw their wages rise by nearly 4 per cent over the same period.
While I fully understand your desire to see a pay rise, workers in the private sector are losing their jobs, being furloughed and seeing wages cut. The Chancellor said it would be difficult to justify continued pay increases across the whole of the public sector but the Government is increasing pay for many public sector workers. This includes over a million nurses, doctors and other NHS staff. Around 2.1 million public sector workers who earn below the average wage of £24,000 are also guaranteed a pay rise of at least £250.
National Living Wage
The National Living Wage increased to £8.91 in April and was also extended to those aged 23 and over. A full-time worker on the National Living Wage will have received a pay increase of over £4,000 since the policy was first introduced in 2016.
Junior Civil Servants
Civil servants have worked exceptionally hard over the last year and I understand your wish to see an increase in pay. Government guidance on pay awards is clear that awards for civil servants must ensure value for money for taxpayers and be mindful of the prevailing economic conditions.
The Chancellor announced in November 2020 that there would be a pay pause for most public sector workers in 2021/22 including for civil servants. Performance pay, overtime pay, pay progression where this is still in place, and pay rises resulting from promotion will, however, continue. Those earning below the full-time equivalent base pay of £24,000 will also receive a consolidated increase of £250.
Pay for civil servants below the Senior Civil Service is ultimately the responsibility of individual government departments and I would encourage you to contact Human Resources in your department for further guidance. Senior Civil Service pay is based on recommendations from the independent Senior Salaries Review Body.
Local Government Pay
I recognise the important and tireless efforts undertaken by local councils during one of the most difficult times in recent history. Their crucial contribution to everyday life in our communities, especially when it comes to helping those most vulnerable, has certainly not gone unnoticed by the many people who have received support.
Local authorities are independent employers, and decisions on pay and terms and conditions are for them to make, in line with general good conduct principles. The Government does not have any role in these decisions. Where national bargaining takes place, it is overseen by an arm of the Local Government Association.
Central government does not provide any guidance to councils on pay level, however, a set of expectations for public sector employers is set by HM Treasury.
I do recognise that these are difficult times for many people and I know that the Government is doing everything it can to help people with the cost of living. Income tax has been cut for the low paid and this has taken millions of people out of income tax altogether.
Changes to the personal allowance mean that no-one pays income tax on the first £12,500 they earn each year. The National Living Wage has increased to £8.91 and a full-time worker will see their annual earning increase by £345.
I am encouraged that the Government has allocated over £9 billion directly to councils since the start of the pandemic and that, on top of this, £3 billion in additional support for coronavirus will be given to councils in 2021-22.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP