Prime Minister faces backlash after lifting pay cap

Theresa May faces backlash over public sector pay after a decision to lift the one per cent pay cap on increases was met with derision from Labour and renewed threats of strikes by trade unions.

Downing Street also announced above one per cent pay rises for police and prison officers in the last of the 2017-2018 deals.

But Jeremy Corbyn accused the Conservatives of trying to divide and rule workers, and unions dismissed the pay rises as insufficient.

May’s spokesperson said a cabinet meeting had approved a recommendation from the independent pay review body for prison officers that they receive an average 1.7 per cent increase, backdated to April.

Ministers agreed for police to get the standard one per cent pay rise with an extra, one-off one per cent sum added for the next year, beginning immediately.

The spokesperson also announced the end of the wider one per cent cap for all public sector staff in the next round of pay deals, for 2018-19.

The Prison Officers Association said the increase would amount to a real-terms pay cut, with the announcement the same day that inflation jumped to 2.9 per cent in August. It has rejected the rise and is planning to coordinate an indicative ballot of members alongside the civil servants union the PCS to see if members will support a strike.

Chief constable Francis Habgood, who leads the council on pay, said: “Without better real terms funding protection from government, an award above one per cent will inevitably impact on our ability to deliver policing services and maintain staffing levels.”

Jeremy Corbyn said: “Today, as inflation rises to nearly three per cent, they are trying to divide people on the cheap. The POA is right, a pay cut is a pay cut. We must be united in breaking the pay cap for all workers.

“Let me be clear today. The Labour party totally rejects the Tories’ attempt to divide and rule, to play one sector off against another. A Labour government will end the public sector pay cap and give all workers the pay rise they deserve and so desperately need.”

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