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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

Federation Chair: Freezing the pay of public sector workers is a betrayal of their hard work

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, the Chairman of Devon and Cornwall 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.

Andy Berry, Chairman of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “Police officers like the rest of the public sector who have worked so hard during the COVID pandemic will feel betrayed. Of course we all live in the real world and understand the economic situation, we know that many people working in some areas of the private sector have suffered, have lost jobs, but it is deeply frustrating that the Government always take the easy option and pick on those working in the public sector to pay the Country’s debts.

“We are barely out of the decade of austerity, there is little fat on the bone and for many officers knowing that their pay will once again start falling behind inflation and private sector pay will feel like a real slap in the face.

“We will be working with the force to ensure that we fully understand the impact on our members and ensure that we provide the best support and advice that we can.”

He added: “We await the Chancellor’s official announcements but we are all familiar now with what seems to be an intentional drip feed of information ahead of major announcements.

“However this ‘leaking’ of partial information only adds to cause my members stress and I have already had questions from members which I cannot answer. 

“For instance one significant concern for many officers is whether or not annual increments will be frozen like last time.  This will be a massive hit for officers who are young in service and have joined in the expectation of pay progression to make up for the poor starting salary.”

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.