Mike Hill MP: Why we must lift the ‘punitive and cruel’ pay cap on all public sector workers

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So, it’s finally over. The Government’s cruel and punitive cap on public sector pay is at an end. Well, almost.

In a flurry of indifference, belligerence and utter contempt for many of Britain’s most important and highly valued workers, the Tories managed to score a massive own goal with their divide and rule tactics.

In an irony that would be funny if it wasn’t so serious, even the groups of workers who got the rise they’ve desperately needed for years were angry about it.

Just to add to the comedy of errors that has become a symbol of Teresa May’s sheer incompetence in government, the announcement of derisory pay awards for police and prison staff – and nothing for others – came as Britain’s inflation rate hit a five-year high, effectively meaning more pay cuts for millions of workers; even those who got a few extra quid in their pay packets.

But what about those public sector workers who have been ignored by the Government? All are deserving of a pay award, but I’m thinking specifically about our nurses and firefighters.

Yes, those same firefighters who thought nothing of their own safety as they ran into a burning tower block not too long ago. The ones government ministers heaped praise on. And those nurses who are saving lives every day and going without meal breaks to keep our creeping NHS going? Don’t they all deserve a massive pay rise? Maybe the Tories could find it in their ice cold hearts to give some money to our nurses; if only to cover the price they have to pay to park their cars to go to work every day.

To add insult to injury that the firefighters, nurses and many others will be feeling today, the Government spin suggested that taxpayers had to foot the bill and had to be considered. I’ve got news for them – I’ve never met a single person who didn’t think Britain’s nurses were worth more money.

This contempt and cruelty towards public sector workers is going to bite the Tories hard. Deservedly so.

l Another aspect of the austerity measures we’ve been suffering for seven years is the effect it has on council services in towns like Hartlepool.

This week, the Mail carried a story about the council facing another £2.3m in cuts in the next two years. Having already made severe cuts to services and slashed jobs, councillors will now have to sit down to discuss where they can trim more money from budgets.

No matter what decisions they make, they’ll be criticised by the public. From a Westminster perspective, it is clear to me that in these difficult times politicians from all sides need to ensure that they can justify the decisions they make to the people who have elected them. That should apply to the cuts they make, as well as what they decide to spend money on.

At a time when levels of cash going to councils is pathetically low, every penny spent must be justified and used to the optimum effect.