The Treasury is said to believe that it can save up to £1.5bn by freezing pay and even more by ending automatic pay rises in government departments.
Many public servants – including police, teachers and NHS staff – are reckoned to have had ‘progressions’ of up to 5 per cent within their pay scale in the last three years because their contracts have had to be honoured but caps and cuts will now start to bite. This would apply in the civil service as well and would see the next government having to continue a tight squeeze on the public sector, probably well into 2018.
The Public and Commercial Services union has estimated that during the coalition’s time in office, public sector pay (including pensions) will have been cut by £7bn a year. And the Trades Union Congress has claimed that cuts have meant that average earnings overall are now the same as they were back in 2000.