They’re caught in a trap, as one renowned American singer might have put it. It is this central dilemma that explains the Tories’ agonising over the public sector pay cap. This freeze is in effect a pay cut when inflation is taken into account, suppressing the living standards of nurses, firefighters, teachers, police officers and other crucial public servants. This is an unavoidable sacrifice in the name of fiscal discipline, the Tories have long cried, even as the wealth of the top 1,000 Britons doubled during an epic economic crisis. It illustrated the profound injustice of our time: of the Tories’ clients in the financial sector plunging Britain into crisis, and then working people being forced to pay for it.
Facts are terribly inconvenient: as those screaming about lifting the public sector pay cap are about to find out. The basic complaint is that pay for all those dedicated servants has fallen in recent years and it should be rising. In real terms it’s entirely true that their pay has fallen as inflation has been higher than nominal rises.
But then that’s true for all of us. We’ve just had a massive recession and thus we are indeed worse off. That’s what a recession is all about. So the question should be: are we all sharing that pain? We are not. Public sector pay has fallen by less than private. The people paying the tax have suffered more than those who eat the tax – hardly a good argument in favour of tax-eater pay rises.
I’ve even got the government’s own figures:
Averaging across all 353 occupations in the UK’s Standard Occupational Classification, there was a decline of 5.8 per cent in median real gross hourly occupational earnings between 2005 and 2015. The decline was steeper among non-PRB occupations than PRB occupations (6.1 per cent compared to 3.1 per cent).
Relative to their nearest non-PRB comparators, earnings growth was higher for the PRB group in five cases and lower in five cases. However, differences were only statistically significant in three instances, with PRB Nurses and PRB Nursing Auxiliaries experiencing higher earnings growth than their non-PRB comparators, while PRB Radiographers experienced significantly lower growth than their non PRB comparator occupation.
PRB being pay review board or summat, meaning public sector.
And that’s before we get to the rises under G Brown, when the public sector was showered with our money…..
Frankly, they’re lying here.