Scottish lift of public sector pay cap relies on UK Treasury, says Mackay

9 Oct 17

The Scottish Government will lift the public sector pay cap as promised but how much it can do this relies on the chancellor, Derek Mackay said today.

Scotland’s finance secretary, speaking at the Scottish National Party conference in Glasgow today, called for the chancellor to unlock investment in public sector pay and services.

Referring to the cap he warned: “If our budget continues to be cut, we will only be able to go so far on pay.”

Mackay told the conference the chancellor Philip Hammond must “ignore the austerity-obsessed right-wingers in his cabinet and do the right thing for public services by unlocking investment.”

He added: “In Scotland we know that high-quality public services rely on dedicated hard working public servants.

“We will continue to work with trades unions, to deliver an affordable settlement, that recognises the cost of living.”

He criticised the UK government for what he called the “triple whammy” of hits to public services in Scotland.

These, he said, were the ‘bedroom tax’, cuts to council tax benefit and effectively stopping the Police Scotland being able to claim back millions it had paid in VAT in the last three years.

The finance secretary said these were examples of how funding for public services north of the border are being squeezed by policy from Westminster, which has led to a 9.2% real-terms cut to Scotland’s budget over the current decade.

Mackay said: “Over ten years we have used the powers of the parliament to chart a different, more progressive course. But we are doing this in the face of unprecedented Tory austerity.”

His speech followed an announcement yesterday from deputy first minister John Swinney, who told the conference that the Scottish government would offer people a £20,000 bursary to retrain as STEM teachers. 

Swinney said: “These ‘career-changers’ still need to go through initial teacher education – we will never compromise on quality - but we can make it easier for them to make that career change.”

Explaining the reason for the offer, he said: “We understand that giving up a salary for a year while they do their teacher training is a real barrier for them.”

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