U.K.’s Rishi Sunak Set to End Public Sector Pay Freeze
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The U.K.’s public sector pay freeze will come to an end next year, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak will announce in his budget Wednesday.
The pay freeze was announced in November last year and came into force in April. At the time, Sunak said he couldn’t justify widespread pay rises in the public sector when many working in the private sector were being hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
He will point to the “solid economic recovery and encouraging signs in the labor market” as reasons to end the “pay pause” next April, the Treasury said in an emailed statement late Monday.
National Health Service workers and all public servants earning less than 24,000 pounds ($33,049) were exempted from the pay freeze, but more than 2 million other workers including firefighters, police and teachers were affected.
However, the U.K. government wasn’t able to commit to public-sector pay increases keeping pace with inflation: Paul Scully, the small business minister, said that couldn’t be guaranteed.
“We’ll see what happens,” Scully said on BBC News on Tuesday. “It’s important that public-sector workers are rewarded for what they do.”
Government departments will need to fund the pay rises from within their own budgets. They will send evidence to independent pay review bodies, which set the pay for most frontline workforces and will then report back with their recommendations.
The level of pay increases will be announced next year when the government responds to these recommendations, the Treasury said.
“With the economy firmly back on track, it’s right that nurses, teachers and all the other public sector workers who played their part during the pandemic see their wages rise,” Sunak said in a statement.
The chancellor will also announce an increase in the U.K. national minimum wage to 9.50 pounds an hour ($13.09), in another boost for millions of low-paid workers, the government announced earlier Monday.
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