North Norfolk’s Norman Lamb slams government’s austerity policy and says poorest people will continue to suffer the most
- Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017
A Norfolk MP has warned that any softening of spending cuts will not help the very poorest in society.
Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb said he does not believe the current pressure on the government to lift the 1% pay cap for public sector workers signals an end to austerity.
Since Theresa May failed to gain an overall majority in the election, instead being forced to do a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party, there has been calls to ditch the pay cap.
Even some within her own cabinet have gone public with their belief that the purse strings should be loosened.
North Norfolk MP Mr Lamb, who served as a health minister in the Coalition Government that introduced austerity, defended the initial policy but added that now there needed to be a fresh approach.
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He said: 'My thinking is that when the Coalition Government came to power in 2010 we took the right decision with public spending. But it has lasted too long now and seven years of it is difficult to justify. There have been injustices.
'Because the government is so weak we are hearing things from members of the cabinet that we might not if it was stronger. It is a case of the government being in office but not in power.
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'There is a clear loss of discipline. The openness that this has caused is actually quite refreshing.
'I think there will be some softening of the public sector pay cap but I do not see this as an end to austerity just yet. There has been a hugely disproportionate impact on the very poorest in society during austerity and I do not see that changing anytime soon I am afraid.'
Mr Lamb added that the very poorest were being ignored with neither Labour or the Tories planning to lift the freeze on benefit payments.
'In the manifesto Labour threw a lot of money around but not in that direction,' he said. 'It will continue to be the country's poorest people who suffer the most. For example those people on disability benefit – those are the ones really feeling austerity.'
And the government has announced that teachers will face another year of frozen pay.
The National Union of Teachers said that years of below-inflation pay deals has seen teachers' wages fall by 13pc in real terms.