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We need fair pay for public servants

For the last 7 years, the government has artificially held down public sector workers’ pay. Rents and bills keep rising, but hardworking public servants don’t get the payrise they’ve earned.
Photo: Jess Hurd,

Our aim:

  • End the unfair restrictions on public servants‘ pay, and allow them the pay rise they have earned

What’s the issue?

For seven years, the government have frozen public servants’ pay or given them a settlement below inflation. As prices, rents and bills go up, that means real hardship for many.

The public sector union Unison found that shocking numbers of healthcare staff were having to use food banks, payday lenders and pawnshops. They found that more than two thirds (67%) said they had either sought financial help or made major changes to their standards of living in the past 12 months.

A firefighter today is earning £2000 less in real terms than they were in 2010. A midwife has seen their pay cut in real terms by £3000. And this when rents are rising and the money in your pocket stretches less and less far.

A modest pay rise is not unaffordable. If public sector workers saw their earnings rise by inflation over the next five years, it would add just 1% to annual departmental spending. And it would pay for itself through a local economic boost – not least in the UK’s poorest regions – and through a higher tax take.

The consensus is growing. The TUC’s own post-election poll shows that 76% of all voters supported giving public sector workers the payrise they deserve. Conservative MPs tell tales of being tackled on the doorstep by teachers and nurses angry that their pay was being artificially held down – and losing votes because of it.

That’s why the government should end real terms pay cuts for all public sector workers in the autumn budget 2017.

There’s been a 1% pay rise for 7 or 8 years now. And it’s the equivalent of a pay cut, year after year, after year. Food, petrol, housing, everything is going up. Something’s got to give.
Sue, leisure centre receptionist

Take action:

Britain Still Needs A Pay Rise

Tell your MP public servants need a pay rise

Write to your MP to help keep up the pressure in Parliament for a fair pay rise for public service workers. It only takes a minute, and we can help you find your MP and send them an email.

Related reports:

Lift the Cap - a fair deal for public service workers

This short report takes a snap shot of the current situation by listening to the voices of workers employed in our schools, our NHS and our local council and emergency services.

Related blog posts:

In my hospital, staff are overstretched and stressed out. NHS staff need fair pay now

I’ve been a physio for 17 years, and I love my job more than anything in the world.

Prison officers are over-stressed and underpaid. We need a fair pay rise now

I’ve been a prison officer for 16 years. It’s always going to be a tough profession, but when I started there was good pay, a good pension and job security. 

Firefighters shouldn’t struggle to support their families – but that’s what the pay cap has done

I didn’t become a firefighter to get rich – no one does. I became a firefighter because I wanted to help people, and to give back to my community.

Is there really a public sector pay premium?

Chancellor Philip Hammond was reported as saying that public sector workers are overpaid. On the Andrew Marr show on Sunday he was given multiple opportunities to deny the accusation. But while he did not repeat the tone-deaf claim, neither did he row back on it.

Public sector workers are asking for a fair pay rise, not a windfall

David Chrimes is a Crown Advocate employed by the Crown Prosecution Service. He writes about why, after a seven-year squeeze, public sector workers deserve a pay rise. 

We can afford to give public servants a pay rise. In fact, we can’t afford not to

Boris Johnson has now u-turned on his own rebellion on public sector pay.

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