Commenting on the Chancellor’s comprehensive spending review today (Wednesday), UNISON South East regional secretary Steve Torrance said:
“This is austerity, plain and simple. A decade of spending cuts left public services exposed when Covid came calling. The government is making the same disastrous mistake again.
“Going after the pay of millions will be a bitter pill for key workers getting local communities across the South East through the pandemic and out the other side.
“The Chancellor wants to pause the pay of care, school, council and other public service workers who’ve been working on fast forward all year.
“This news couldn’t have come at a worse time. Many parts of the South East are seeing a surge in Covid cases. Public sector workers are on the frontline, keeping communities safe and essential services functioning. Today’s news will destroy morale.
“Public service workers will remember the prime minister and chancellor repeatedly clapping for key workers from their doorways in Downing Street and wonder now if this was just an empty gesture.
“Extra money in pockets gets spent locally. Less than a pound more a week for some won’t save the thousands of ailing shops and leisure, arts and hospitality venues across the South East which desperately need support now.
“Health staff have already shown they and the NHS more than deserve a rise this year. This can’t wait on a lengthy pay review body process. The government should do the right thing and deliver the goods now.
“Reviving the economy will take a gargantuan effort from everyone. That means investing in the entire economy, not seeking to divide and rule between the sectors. Public services in the South East need support, not the same old Conservative cuts. Our key workers mustn’t be taken for granted and left to carry the Covid can.”
Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.