Roughly 1.4m local authority employees face a pay freeze for the second year running, the Local Government Employers (LGE) body has announced (not included are fire service workers and teachers whose pay is negotiated separately).

LGE said there was no option with funding from central government being slashed and local authorities having to manage with £6.5bn less this year.

Managing director Jan Parkinson said: “Hard-working council employees help make local government the most efficient part of the public sector. This decision has not been taken lightly. Councils are facing extremely tough choices this year and have to ask their whole workforce to recognise the need to limit spending in all areas.”

However, Brian Strutton, national secretary for public services at the GMB union, said: “Members will be sickened by the imposition of another year’s pay freeze. These are some of the lowest-paid and hardest-working people – home helps, social workers, school dinner ladies, refuse collectors.

“These … workers had below-inflation pay rises in April 2008 and 2009 and a pay freeze in April 2010. With inflation still running high, council workers have now had a 10 per cent real pay cut over the past three years, leaving many of them in poverty. On top of huge job losses and attacks on their conditions and pensions, it’s abject misery for workers in local government while fat-cat bankers who caused the recession still rake in the bonuses.”