The UK Spending Review appeared to recognise the devastating economic harm of Covid-19 yet did not deliver the levels of investment required for economic recovery.
Public Sector workers and civil servants during the pandemic have performed heroics in our NHS, social care services and civil servants working in the DWP and HMRC.
The Scottish Government, and other devolved administrations, have shown how we value the contribution of our NHS and social care staff with a £500 thank you payment, of which shamefully the Treasury wishes to take national insurance and tax off the payment.
In the last nine months, we have also seen supreme efforts by public sector civil servants working in the DWP and HMRC. These workers, while adapting to a new way of working, have helped to administer millions of new Universal Credit claims and processed tens of millions of furlough payments.
The Chancellor’s announcement of a pay freeze completely misjudges the public opinion on this matter and fails to show appreciation to the frontline workers battling to keep the four nations of the UK going during the pandemic.
It also fails to help support economic recovery.
A public sector pay freeze is both counterproductive and economically illiterate. Research before the pandemic showed that nearly 70p in every pound of public money ends up in the private sector economy through grants, contracts, or indeed public sector workers’ wages. When workers in the public sector get money in their pockets, they tend to spend it in the private sector.
If we are serious about helping the private sector and to drive economic growth, it surely stands to reason that public sector workers, as thanks for their hard work for the last nine months, should get a proper pay rise.
We cannot afford to return to the austerity programme that flatlined the economy over the last decade of Tory UK Governments and in my role as SNP Spokesperson for Fair Work and Employment I will challenge any attempts by the Chancellor to lead us down that road.
A proper public sector pay rise should be the first step in a post-pandemic recovery package.