Theresa May 'agrees to lift public sector pay cap’

Plan would allow pay review bodies to recommend increases above 1%, which means it might not apply across the civil service

Photo: PA

By Kevin Schofield

30 Jun 2017

Theresa May has agreed to lift the cap on public sector pay after Conservative MPs took their case for a change in approach directly to Downing Street, it has been reported.

Twenty senior backbenchers demanded the Prime Minister to abandon the 1% limit in the Budget later this year.

The extraordinary move came after days of confusion over the government's position on the issue.


Among the MPs who marched on Number 10 were former Tory chairman Grant Shapps and ex-justice minister Andrew Selous.

According to The Sun, they were given an assurance by May's chief of staff Gavin Barwell that the salary review bodies which advise ministers on public sector pay will be told they can recommend an uplift of more than 1%.

Barwell blamed the restrictions hitting Conservative support in the general election, where they list their overall majority. Echoing this, former head of the civil service Lord Kerslake, has told CSW that the pay freeze had directly influenced voting decisions in the election.

The meeting was held on the same day Tory and DUP MPs joined forces to vote down a Labour bid to lift the pay cap. Public sector pay, including for civil servants, was originally frozen for two years from 2010, followed by a 1% cap on annual pay rises. This is due – under pre-election Conservative plans – to remain in place until at least 2020.

One MP present at the Number 10 meeting told the paper: "Gavin told us that the PM completely accepts there needs to be some big changes of style and tone, but she can’t be seen to be pushed around by Comrade Corbyn.

"Instead, she and Philip Hammond will invite the pay review bodies to come back with bigger settlements in due course. We all came away very happy with what we heard."

Across most parts of the public sector, including the senior civil service, the NHS, teachers in schools and the police, pay levels are partly a matter for the pay review bodies – although the government has set them a mandate to keep increases within the 1% limit. For civil servants outside the SCS, pay policy is set by the Treasury.


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