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16.05.17

Lib Dems join Labour in pledge to scrap 1% public sector pay cap

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has pledged to put an end to the government’s 1% public sector pay cap and uprate wages in line with inflation, a commitment that is in line with Labour’s pledges according to its leaked manifesto.

Farron, who accused the Conservatives of treating health workers “like dirt” at yesterday’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) annual conference, said nurses and teachers could be £780 better off by 2021 as part of his party’s plans.

Conversely, it is estimated that a new nurse would be around £530 worse off by then under current Tory plans, while a primary school teacher would lose out on £550 and an army sergeant £830, according to Lib Dem analysis. The party’s leader also said that the controversial pay cap, branded by many unions as a “cruel” policy, would leave the average civil servant £800 worse off by 2021.

Vince Cable, Lib Dem shadow chancellor and the former business secretary, said: “Public sector workers are facing a double blow at the hands of this Conservative government, with years of pitiful increases to pay combined with a Brexit squeeze caused by soaring inflation.

“Our NHS and schools are already struggling to recruit the staff they need. "Living standards are falling, prices are rising and nurses are going to food banks – but Theresa May doesn’t care.”

Farron, who also promised a 1p hike in income tax in order to raise another £6bn for the health service, said scrapping the pay cap is a fully costed pledge.

Just last week, a leading trade union claimed the cap policy will cost the UK economy around £16bn in lost wages by the end of the decade. Analysis by the GMB also predicted that between 2017 and 2020, five million workers in the public sector will find themselves out of pocket by around £3,300 each.

As expected, the cap has been an extremely controversial policy since its inception, and is now threatening to drive the nursing workforce to its first-ever strike in the RCN’s 100-year history.

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