Government urged to follow Scotland by scrapping public sector pay cap

Officers in Scotland have expressed their anger at another one per cent increase to their salaries as the government promised to lift the pay cap next year.

Sep 8, 2017

Scotland’s Finance Minister has urged the UK Government to follow its lead by ending the one per cent cap on public sector pay rises. Derek Mackay said public sector workers across the UK deserve a “fairer deal” after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised to end the restriction in Scotland from next year. The Treasury is expected to announce this year’s pay award later this month and several high-ranking ministers have hinted it may be more in line with the rate of inflation. However, Scottish Police Federation (SPF) members expressed their anger at another one per cent increase this year, describing it as a “slap in the face”. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “In the face of the UK Government’s continued budget cuts, we remain committed to a distinctive pay policy, which is fair, supports those on the lowest incomes, and delivers value for money for the people of Scotland. “I would urge the UK Government to use the Autumn Budget to change their course on austerity by properly investing in vital public services and to follow our lead by lifting the one per cent public sector pay cap.” Ms Sturgeon signalled her plans to lift the cap that has been in place since 2013 when she outlined her government’s plans for 2017/18 on Tuesday (September 5). The announcement means Police Scotland officers’ future wage increases will be based on the cost of living. Meanwhile, SPF members criticised their General Secretary, Calum Steele, who said was he “pleased” to tell them this year’s pay award – containing another one per cent rise – has been agreed. The SPF had submitted an application for 3.5 per cent, slightly above the rate of inflation. The deal also includes an end to the practice of not paying officers for the first half hour of casual overtime, compensatory payments for excessive disruption of rest days and the choice to nominate two other days as ‘public holidays’ in lieu of Christmas and New Year’s Day. Responding to the announcement on Twitter, SPF members said Mr Steele had “sold them up the river” and called for a vote of no confidence. Others described the pay award as a “slap in the face” and criticised his use of the word ‘pleased’ given the circumstances. The agreement is likely to prove even more controversial if the UK Government makes good on suggestions that it will lift the pay cap in England and Wales for this year’s award. The final decision was originally expected in July, but was delayed until this month. Policing Minister Nick Hurd has refused to speculate on whether officers can expect a larger pay rise but told the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales (PSAEW) conference “there is a limit to what we can reasonably ask of you”. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon have previously discussed the need to consider greater remuneration for public sector workers. Ms Sturgeon said: “The pay cap, while never desirable, was necessary to protect jobs and services. “However, with inflation on the rise, it is not sustainable. Our nurses, teachers, police officers and fire fighters deserve a fairer deal for the future. “Indeed, the need to recruit the staff that our public services depend on also demands a new approach. “We will therefore aim to secure pay rises from next year that are affordable, but which also reflect the real life circumstances our public servants face and the contribution our public services make to the overall prosperity of our country.”

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