The minister declines to obey the pay board’s recommendations
Treasury Minister Victoria Atkins has declined to confirm whether the government will follow the recommendations of pay review bodies regarding salary increases for public sector workers. She stated that other ministers are currently reviewing the recommendations and will make a decision in the future. Pay review bodies offer guidance on salary levels for various professions, such as doctors, teachers, and police officers.
However, their advice is not legally binding, and ministers have the authority to disregard it. Insufficient pay rises, below the inflation rate, have resulted in strikes across the public sector, impacting schools and hospitals.
When asked if the government would adhere to the recommendations, Atkins admitted she had not seen them but assured that they would be carefully examined. Nonetheless, she cautioned that the decisions were being made in the context of high inflationary pressures in the UK. Government officials have repeatedly argued that significant pay rises could exacerbate inflation and harm the country’s economy. Trade unions have warned that, without action, workers may leave the public sector for better-paying roles elsewhere.
Regarding tax cuts, Atkins stated that the government currently lacks the capacity to consider them. However, once measures are implemented to reduce inflation, discussions on tax cuts can be initiated. Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, appearing on the same programme, emphasised that if Labour came to power after the next general election, they would not be reckless with the nation’s finances.
Headlam highlighted the financial burdens faced by public sector workers, including mortgages and increasing supermarket prices. She argued that there is a lack of good choices due to the economy’s sluggish growth, persistent inflation, and rising interest rates.