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  • Government’s so-called “pay rise” is really a pay cut, says TUC
  • Police set be £450 a year worse off by 2022, prison staff will be £980 down
  • TUC to hold public sector pay rally in Parliament Square on Tuesday 17 October

Police and prison officers will be hundreds of pounds a year worse off by 2022, new TUC analysis has revealed today (Tuesday).

The analysis shows that although the pay cap will be lifted for police (+2%) and prison staff (+1.7%) the below-inflation increases mean their pay will continue to fall in real terms.

A police officer will be earning £450 less in real terms by the end of the parliament. And a prison officer will still be £980 a year down.

The TUC analysis also reveals that if ministers give other public workers similar pay deals they too will remain significantly out of pocket.

A 2% pay rise for firefighters would still leave them £515 a year worse off in 2022. And a midwife would be more than £620 a year down in real terms.

The TUC says the findings are proof that the living standards squeeze will continue for public sector workers.

TUC polling shows that one in seven (15%) public sector workers skipped meals this year to make ends meet. And 1 in 4 (24%) say they couldn’t pay an unexpected bill of £500.

The findings coincide with a major TUC rally against the pay cap that will take place at Parliament Square from 7pm today.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The government claims it recognises the sacrifice public sector workers have made. But it still won’t give them a fair pay rise.

“The latest offer to police and prison officers is yet another real-terms pay cut.

“Public sector workers have kept services running in the face of huge cutbacks and job losses. The Chancellor must use next month’s Budget to give them all the decent pay rise they have earned.

“This means announcing new funding. If the government raids already stretched departmental budgets it will be robbing Peter to pay Paul.”


Notes to editors:

- Today’s TUC rally will take place at 7pm at Parliament Square. Hundreds of union members will take part and it is expected to finish at around 8pm, when attendees will disperse. Speakers at the rally include TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis and National Education Union General Secretary Mary Bousted.

- Photo-op: At 5pm, before the rally takes place, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady will be available for photographs and interviews with several public sector workers. This will take place at Parliament Square. For more details please call the TUC press office on 020 7467 1248.

- TABLE 1: Projected real-terms pay losses for public sector workers by 2022


Annual loss in 2022 (1.7%)

Cumulative loss to 2022 (1.7%)

Annual loss in 2022 (2%)

Cumulative loss to 2022 (2%)

Prison officer





Police officer




















Civil servant (DWP exec officer)















Source: National pay scales, inflation figures taken from OBR March 2017 forecast

- TABLE 2: Real-terms pay losses between 2010 and 2017


Pay in 2017

Pay in 2010 at CPI in 2016 prices

Nominal real terms pay cut at CPI

Prison Officer








NHS Paramedic












NHS Specialist Dietician




NHS Ancillary staff




Source: National pay scales, inflation figures taken from OBR March 2017 forecast

- TABLE 1 Methodology: We have taken earnings data from national pay scales across different parts of the public sector. This has been multiplied by the various pay offers 1%, 1.7% and 2% (We have assumed that the additional, non-consolidated 1% offer made to the police is repeated throughout the time period) then we have compared this to if the same earnings kept pace with forecast CPI inflation to calculate the real terms difference in earnings by 2022. Cumulative loss of earnings represents the sum total of the difference in earnings each year over this time period.

- TABLE 2 Methodology: The pay loss figures compare 2010 and 2017 public sector salaries, and adjust for CPI inflation, including the OBR’s projected inflation for 2017.

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.6 million working people who make up our 50 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

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