Reader letter: Pay fall for the public sector

There is a pay fall the public sector (Picture: Archant)

There is a pay fall the public sector (Picture: Archant) - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2008

You have to admire Chloe Smith MP talking about low pay re 'Many workers stuck in low-paying jobs' she has some nerve.

I work for an employer who every year in April is forced to increase the pay of a substantial number of its staff to comply with the National Living Wage. This year that was an increase to £7.50 per hour or 4.2pc. Still less than the low pay threshold of £8.25 per hour.

It also has a 1pc pay cap policy. So, to pay some staff the minimum wage it gives almost everyone, even if they are also paid below £8.25 of not very much above it, less than 1pc.

For the last seven years many, if not most, of the staff working for this employer have actually received no pay rise at all or less than 1pc. This year with inflation at 3pc my pay rise is barely over 0.5pc as it was for the past four years after a two-year pay freeze.

READ MORE: People on low pay in the East struggling to find better work, report showsWhat sort of an employer robs other low paid staff to fund the living wage? Well actually it's the Valuation Office Agency, a government department.

The consequences of the public sector pay cap, which Chloe is so keen to defend, is that more and more staff are living close to the edge of financial ruin.

In 2011 when I was elected a rep for my union I was advised to find out the addresses of foodbanks and debt counselling services in the areas I represented. I soon found out why.

What sort of country do we live in where employees of the government, of which Chloe Smith is a member, or any other employers for that matter, after working all week have to go to a foodbank to make ends meet?

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Since 2010 public sector workers have seen the actual value of the pay fall by over 10pc and there's only so much belt tightening you can do.

This week the Bank of England said personal debt, much of unsecured, is spiralling out of control. Not to pay for luxuries but basic living costs and this is having a serious effect on our economy.

Not all public servants are restricted by the 1pc pay cap. In 2015 MPs like Chloe saw their pay rise by 12pc from £66,000 to £74,000. This year it will rise by another 1.4pc.

Why didn't she refuse to take the rise or vote against it if she believed in her government's austerity programme? Clearly the 'we are all in it together' is the farce it always was.

It's time the pay cap in the public sector ended. I doubt Chloe will agree so perhaps until she is actually willing to do something about low pay that her government inflicts on its own employees she can at least stop lecturing us about it.