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15.05.12

Clegg dismisses regional pay proposals

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said ‘no decision’ has been made yet concerning regional public sector pay, despite earlier statements by Chancellor George Osborne.

Clegg said: “There is going to be no regional pay system. That is not going to happen. No decisions have been taken.

“All that has been asked is something which happened under the last government – they did it in the Crown Court Service – which is ‘is there, in specific cases, a justification to allow local, not regional, local market-based costs to be reflected in the way people are paid in the public sector?’

“It is being looked at. Nothing has been decided. I feel very, very strongly, as an MP fromSouth Yorkshirewith a lot of people in the public services, that we are not going to do anything which simply willy-nilly exacerbates a north-south divide.

“There has been some ludicrous scaremongering, particularly from the trade unions, about what is intended when there is no proposal on the table at all.

“I really do think it’s important that people should be reassured that we are not just going to sort of rush headlong in imposing a system from above which, if it was done in the way some people describe, would be totally unjust because it would actually penalise people working in some of the most difficult areas.”

Unions have called for the plans to be dropped, but the Treasury says that with public sector pay 18% higher than in the private sector in some areas of theUK, closing the gap is vital to boost the private sector.

Brian Strutton, national officer of the GMB union, said: “The deputy prime minister appears to be softening the line on regional pay previously put out by the chancellor.”

Unison’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, added: “If Nick Clegg disagrees with regionalised pay he should convince George Osborne to ditch his divisive plans.

“Far from being about making pay fairer, plans for regionalised pay in the public sector are simply a cost-cutting exercise. Not a single public sector worker will get a pay rise, but many will see their pay cut.”

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