Pressure mounts to review public sector pay cap

3 Jul 17

Increased pressure is being put on the government to lift the 1% public sector pay cap, as senior Conservatives suggest it should be reviewed.

Environment secretary Michael Gove hinted on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday the cap could be lifted saying the “integrity” of the pay review process should be respected.

Independent review bodies advise ministers on public sector pay rises. 

The Sun newspaper reported on Friday that Theresa May’s chief of staff Gavin Barwell told a group of Conservative MPs the government would inform pay review bodies they can recommend an uplift of more than 1%.

The group of Conservative MPs – including former party chair Grant Shapps – had marched on Downing Street to protest against the cap, which is blamed for staff shortages in the public sector including from people quitting their jobs

It has been widely reported today that foreign secretary Boris Johnson has gone further than his cabinet colleague Gove, with a Whitehall source quoted saying Johnson “strongly” believes pay rises for the public sector could be achieve in a “responsible way”.

Scotland’s finance secretary Derek Mackay last week pledged Scotland would end the 1% pay cap on the public sector.

“The first minister has made it clear that it will not be assumed that the 1% pay cap will be maintained next year or in future years,” he told the Scottish Parliament.

Education secretary Justice Greening has said she would like to see the pay cap ‘relaxed’ and health secretary Jeremy Hunt recently told an NHS Confederation conference last month he would be talking to Treasury about his concerns over the pay cap.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said on the BBC 1 yesterday the Conservative Party were in “turmoil” over the pay cap.

"We're saying to the pay review bodies: ‘Get rid of the 1% cap and give a fair pay rise,’” Ashworth said.

Labour’s proposed amendment to the Queen’s Speech to end the 1% public sector pay cap was voted down in the House of Commons last week.

Norman Lamont, Conservative chancellor of the exchequer is the early 1990s, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme today he understood the necessity of reviewing the pay cap where there was “an issue of recruitment”.

But he added he “objected” to the pressure that was being put on the government to “abandon restraint on public expenditure”.

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