Freezing the pay of millions of public sector workers – including police officers – would be a betrayal of their commitment in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chairman of Gloucestershire Police Federation has said.
It has been widely reported today that the Government is considering announcing a public sector pay freeze in next week’s Spending Review to cover the UK’s deficit in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown.
Steve James, Chairman of Gloucestershire Police Federation, said: “I think we all understand that at some point the bill was going to come due for the measures that have been taken to keep the economy afloat during pandemic.
“But to place that burden on the very people who have been at the frontline of this pandemic – those putting themselves at risk so that others can be kept safe – is utterly unreasonable
“This betrayal of the commitment and sacrifice made by key workers is made all the more unconscionable as throughout this crisis we have watched tens of billions of pounds worth of public money handed to companies unprepared, unable and unfit to provide PPE to those same workers.”
During the last recession, from 2011, public sector workers were subjected to a pay freeze and then a pay cap for a number of years.
This resulted in an 18% real-terms pay cut for hard working police officers.
Police Federation of England and Wales National Chairman John Apter said today: “During the pandemic, the Government has thanked and celebrated members of the public sector; to freeze their pay and penalise these same workers would be morally bankrupt, unforgivable and a betrayal.”
“Yes we’re in tough times, but this would be extremely damaging for those very key workers the Government has applauded over the past several months.
“After [nearly] a decade of public sector pay freezes/caps, this would be an unforgivable decision if it were to happen, the Government must stop and think before doing this.”
When questioned, the Treasury declined to comment on the reports but pointed to language used by Rishi Sunak in a letter about the Spending Review in July.
The letter outlined that in the “interest of fairness we must exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards, ensuring that across this year and the spending review period, public sector pay levels retain parity with the private sector”.
It has been reported that nurses and doctors will be exempt from the future pay freeze.
In 2020, police officers received a 2.5% pay rise.