20 November 2020
Freezing the pay of millions of public sector workers – including police officers - would be a betrayal of their hard work in the effort to combat Covid-19, Cumbria Police Federation has said.
It has been widely reported today that the Government is considering announcing a public sector pay freeze in next week’s Spending Review to cover the UK’s deficit in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown.
Paul Williams, Chair of Cumbria Police Federation, said: “We have been repeatedly kicked by Government for a decade and suffered a pay freeze which left us 18% below inflation.
“Finally, when we thought we were getting somewhere, another kicking comes in a time when we’re needed most. Our cops have worked harder than ever under incredible risk. Police assaults have gone through the roof, our pensions have been torn to shreds and our members are already suffering financial hardship.
“Is this how we honour those who have fallen in the line of duty and those who risk their lives daily?
If so then shame on our Government.”
Jamie McTear, Secretary of Cumbria Police Federation, said: “Waking to the news of a public sector pay freeze this morning felt like the ultimate betrayal of what the police and other public sector workers have done over the last nine months.
“Police officers and other public sector workers have been at the forefront of the fight against this Pandemic. Our members have continued to put on their uniforms, regardless of the risks they encounter to keep the people of Cumbria safe.
“We have seen increases in officer assaults, and the threat of Covid 19 as a weapon by individuals against officers has been abhorrent.
“After being praised by the Government for their hard work over the past nine months, for public sector workers to hear the news of a pay freeze is a shocking way to repay that commitment.”
Jamie added: “Police officers still haven’t recovered from the last pay freeze which saw in real terms 18% reduction in pay. I understand the Government need to recover finances as a result of this pandemic, however when projects such as HS2 are still ploughing ahead at a reported cost in excess of £100bn, how can a pay freeze for our colleagues be justified.”
During the last recession, from 2011, public sector workers were subjected to a pay freeze and then a pay cap for a number of years.
This resulted in an 18% real-terms pay cut for hard working police officers.
Police Federation of England and Wales National Chairman John Apter said today: “During the pandemic, the Government has thanked and celebrated members of the public sector; to freeze their pay and penalise these same workers would be morally bankrupt, unforgivable and a betrayal.”
“Yes we’re in tough times, but this would be extremely damaging for those very key workers the Government has applauded over the past several months.
“After [nearly] a decade of public sector pay freezes/caps, this would be an unforgivable decision if it were to happen, the Government must stop and think before doing this.”
When questioned, the Treasury declined to comment on the reports but pointed to language used by Rishi Sunak in a letter about the Spending Review in July.
The letter outlined that in the "interest of fairness we must exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards, ensuring that across this year and the spending review period, public sector pay levels retain parity with the private sector".
It has been reported that nurses and doctors will be exempt from the future pay freeze.
In 2020, police officers received a 2.5% pay rise.