Scrap the cap

This is my column in the Barnsley Chronicle of 15th September calling for the Government to scrap the public sector pay cap.

These days in politics it can often feel like there’s less and less that everybody agrees on.

But from chatting on doorsteps to meeting constituents in Westminster, one thing it seems that everyone believes is that we should all be paid a fair wage for a day’s work.

Whether in the public sector, the private sector, a young person just entering the world of employment, or someone nearing their retirement, we all deserve to be paid a proper amount for what we do.

But over recent years, it seems like there are far too many who are falling short of this expectation.

The public sector pay cap that has been in place since 2010 has forced many hard-working people here in Barnsley and across the UK to feel a real pinch in their pay packets.

Whilst the policy still allows for a small 1 percent pay rise each year, this falls short of inflation rates and results in a real terms pay cut.

Our teachers, who are seeing colleagues leave the profession and now oversee some of the highest class sizes in Yorkshire, are around £5000 worse off in real terms since 2010.

Our front-line police officers, of which our local police force has lost 18 percent since 2010, have seen real terms cuts of nearly £6000 in the same period.

Our firefighters, of whom we have lost nearly 28 percent of front-line staff in South Yorkshire since 2010, have seen real terms cuts of £2500 in this time.

Our nurses, including those in Barnsley I was fortunate to meet in Westminster last week, are 14 percent worse off since 2010.

And other public sector employees working in difficult conditions are seeing demands and workloads rise and, whilst their resources and real terms pay are slashed.

The Government finally conceded this week, claiming an end to the cap and offering a meagre rise for various public sector workers.

But the rise for those lucky enough to receive it is still below inflation, and for others the extra money will come from their own already-threadbare budgets.

It’s still not good enough. Let’s get on with it, give our hard working public sector employees the proper pay and support they deserve, and finally scrap the cap.