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Public sector workers face real pay cut of 9.3% by 2020

Public sector workers including midwives, teachers and social workers are set to lose thousands of pounds from their pay packet by 2020, new analysis has revealed.

Data published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has shown that some workers will face real pay losses of over £3,000 due to government restrictions on public pay, with social workers set to be the hardest hit.

The analysis has led to further criticism of the government’s 1% cap on public sector salary increases, which the TUC has said stops wages rising with living costs.

“Everyone in the UK has bills to pay, and it’s only fair that wages should at least keep up with rising living costs,” said the TUC’s general secretary Frances O’Grady. “Workers in the public sector are already feeling the squeeze, and it seems like there’s worse to come.”

“Government pay restrictions hurt staff in overstretched public services, and make it even harder to recruit good people,” she added. “Particularly at a time of crisis in the NHS, we need to be recruiting the best people for the job. It’s time for ministers to give public employers the freedom to negotiate with unions for pay in their sectors.”

According to the TUC’s analysis, public sector workers will face a real pay cut of 9.3% in 2016 prices by 2020-21, having a varying impact on the amount they earn.

While social workers at the top of their pay grade face a pay drop of £3,533, ambulance drivers, who already earn below the average UK wage, will lose £1,834, leaving them with an annual pay cheque of only £17,821.

Jon Skewes, director for policy, employment relations and communications for the Royal College of Midwives, said that the government’s 1% pay cap shows a “total disregard” for the contribution and sacrifices made by NHS staff.

“This is yet more evidence that our hard working midwives and other NHS staff are being hit hard by a significant fall in their earnings, at a time when the costs of living are rising,” Skewes added.

“At the same time this government is expecting these already hardworking staff to be even more productive than they already are and cope with increasing demands with fewer staff and resources.”

The TUC and the RCM have called on the government to reform pay review bodies to be genuinely independent, allowing each part of the public sector, such as the NHS, to determine its own appropriate pay.

The TUC is also pressing the government to raise public sector pay to the ‘real’ living wage as determined by the Living Wage Foundation, which takes into account rising living costs.

The government has defended its restraint on public sector pay as it looks to maintain fiscal discipline, saying that the Office of Budget Responsibility has forecast that the policy will protect around 200,000 jobs.

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