Little public support for regional pay, TUC survey shows
By Vivienne Russell | 25 September 2012
Almost two-thirds of voters think the government should drop its plans to introduce regional pay in the public sector.
A poll published by the Trades Union Congress today revealed that just a quarter of voters (26%) thought moving away from nationally set pay scales was fair.
The survey of 1,000 adults in England, Scotland and Wales, conducted by pollsters Survation on behalf of the TUC, found that support for regional pay was weak even among voters who supported one of the coalition parties at the last election.
Three-quarters of Liberal Democrat voters (75%) said ministers should scrap the plans compared with 17% who thought they should press ahead. Among Conservative supporters, half (51%) think the government should abandon regional pay, while a third (33%) think it should continue.
Only 6% of those questioned thought regional pay would be good for NHS patients or school pupils.
Rob Johnston, Midlands TUC regional secretary, said the regional pay plans would do nothing to create jobs in the private sector and were likely to harm local economies.
He added: ‘Apart from the obvious unfairness of paying a teacher in Gateshead less than one teaching in Gloucester, wildly varying pay rates will make it much harder for schools in poorer areas of the country to attract and retain good quality staff.
‘Similarly, if individual hospitals are going to be told to set their own rates of pay, the time and complexity of the resulting wage negotiations and subsequent problems with recruitment – as staff migrate to parts of the NHS able to pay higher salaries – could have a damaging impact on patient care.’
Damian Lyons Lowe, chief executive of Survation, observed that there was a ‘great deal of public unease’ about regional pay, adding that public opinion had remained constant since March when voters were first surveyed on the issue.
‘If implemented, this policy could make it particularly difficult for parties wanting to reconnect with voters in key marginal seats in the North, Midlands and Southwest of England.’
Yesterday, data released by job search engine Adzuna suggested that the Northwest, Northeast and Wales were the regions likely to be hit hardest by plans to regionalise public sector pay.
Public sector workers in London could also face significant pay reductions, Adzuna warned, saying: ‘Allowances paid to public sector workers in inner London (up to 20% of salary in sectors such as nursing) could come into line with private sector equivalents, meaning pay cuts of up to 5%.’