order order just before i call the proposal of the emotion can i remind honorable and right honourable members that there have been some changes to the procedure in here and even if you have attended a westminster hall debate before today under the new rules uh there have been changes to the change rules in order to respect social distancing if members consider these seats with ticks against them there are more people on the order list than there are seats in the horseshoe so i will only call members to speak if they're here at the start of the the debate and if members who've spoken uh wish to leave or move to the seats at the back then they can do so that's the only way the members can't speak because it is not allowed for members to speak from the uh public uh gallery i'd also ask uh members to respect the one-way system and come in that door we're in and go out that door when they finished and if uh members could also sanitize uh their microphones in front of them i think that's uh all um the new rules and i will call on tonya antoniazi to move the motion i beg to move that this house is considered e-petitions 328-754 and three zero six eight four five relating to financial rewards for government workers and key workers thank you mr stringer and it is a pleasure to serve under your chairship and an honor to lead for the petitions committee on this debate as we come to the end of any year we all start to reflect on the events of the last 12 months the 2020 has been such an unprecedented year for everyone and throughout the year we have seen examples of extraordinary contributions that have been made by so many and in particular the role of our key workers that has made our lives so much better throughout the pandemic and i would like to put again on record my sincere thanks to all those who have worked hard and have given what was most needed when we needed it most they have been invaluable but it seems that despite warm words the government does not seem to appreciate the work that so many have done for us we clapped for them on our doorsteps but turns out they aren't worth paying properly in recognition of their dedication as we can see from the number of signatures on these two petitions and indeed the sheer number of petitions on this issue that there is a strong feeling across the country on how we should be rewarding people on the front line during the summer i had a phone call from my friend mel's brother a local refuse collector and union rep he just wanted to tell me firsthand how his team had turned up throughout the pandemic and continue not to miss around i'm so proud of them so proud of the efforts that people have made to keep our country going swansea council and local authorities across the united kingdom can be very proud of their workforce and how they have adapted to the challenges and while rob stewart the leader of swansea council is looking at different ways to reward staff his hands are tied financially and also former colleagues of mine in the teaching profession in both england and wales who have kept schools open for key workers children describe to me the immense fatigue and pressure they are under from moving classrooms carrying resources increased planning and preparation in a job in which they feel deeply responsible about the learning and progression of our future generations they are also on their knees and when the welsh labor government tried to reward workers in care homes with their 500 pound bonus earlier in the year the chancellor's check attacks them on it and with those claiming universal credit suffer in a double whammy [Music] these are the poorest paid people in the public sector and they took those hits again and again and they look like they're going to do the same if the scottish government tried to give a thank you payment to their nhs staff as well in response to the honorable member indeed my honorable friend from glasgow southwest who i'm pleased to see in this debate the prime minister said that he was lost in admiration for the efforts of our civil servants whether in dwp hmrc or the treasury if we think about the furloughing scheme everybody said it was impossible and far too complicated and that we would never get that cash into people's pockets but they did it within four weeks that is a fantastic tribute to the work of our civil service and i thank them from the bottom of that my heart the words from the prime minister well following the chancellor's spending review announcement that there will be a pay fees for all public sector workers i suspect that civil service servants won't be feeling the prime minister's admiration so much as lost this further pay freeze has come after public sector workers have already been punished by a decade of pay freezes and increased workload i know i was one of them and i'm sure we will hear from the minister about the difference in public and private sector pay but we know that once workforce characteristics such as experience and educational attainment are taken into account there is close to a zero percent difference in pain undoubtedly we will hear about fairness for those working in the private sector and i wholeheartedly agree that they should be treated with fairness but this is and should not be a race to the bottom we should be bringing pay in the private sector up to a standard that makes all work pay as the conservatives i want to say the minister will probably talk about the value for money for taxpayers but guess what public sector workers pay their taxes too and this government doesn't think that the work that has been done by civil servants by nurses by the police by the fire service by work coaches by border force by refuse collectors by workers in the justice system by our armed forces by teachers and by all of those who have faced the biggest challenge and have put themselves on the front line in fighting this pandemic is worthy worthy of a pay raise then they should say so and i'll wait for the government line to be trotted out about the poorest paid being rewarded if they were being rewarded in any meaningful way i would welcome this announcement but as with all of these things the devil is in the detail a pay rise of 250 pound for those earning under 24 000 pounds a year is equivalent to just four pounds 80 a week and that's before tax so in terms of a take-home pay about enough for mince pies two pints of milk and some tea bags what a christmas bonus for them just one look at the civil service campaign here for you shows what a resilient and adaptive workforce we have in our civil servants the defense equipment workers who have been overseeing staffing of the nightingale hospitals the driver vehicle standards agency who work to get other key workers their test driving tests quickly those in the foreign office who repatriated thousands of british citizens from abroad abroad and i personally thank them we cannot forget them all and especially the workers in hmrc who got that furlough scheme up and running on the dwp staff friends of mine who process thousands of universal credit claims some of those already on low wages public sector workers aren't asking a lot they just want their contribution to be recognized they were undoubtedly grateful for our applauses earlier this year but it won't put food on the table buy new school uniform keep the car on the road or work on or get to work on public transport claps don't pay the bills and at the end of the day we are here to represent them and just look in westminster hall today you can see who really cares about this mr chair thank you the question is that this house is considered e-petitions 306 845 and three two eight seven five four relating to financial rewards for government workers and uh key workers there's 40 minutes and approximately until i intend to call the front bench spokespeople i've got i think 11 speakers so i start with a time limit of four minutes if that should be anybody's short on time it should just about do it but if if there are many uh interventions i will have to reduce the time john mcdonnell thank you thank you mr stringer and i want to thank my own boyfriend who has eloquently introduced the debate and cover most of the ground that most of us want to really emphasize because i just want the minister to realize that to get petitions on this scale reflects the depths of anger anger amongst those most effective of course with civil servants but also their families and the whole community and the depth of anger is because these are the people that kept this country going for the last nine months round the corner from me and the dwp administering as my honourable friend have said the million more universal credit claims hmrc the ealing office in my just down for my constitutions which the government's closing administering all those claims to keep the businesses going the fair loads so companies weren't bankrupted as a result of that and then also at heathrow whereas this morning on the picket lines immigration and border control stopped two of whom died as a result of covert they're the sacrifices that these people have made so no wonder there's a depth of anger and the depth of anger is because it comes after 10 years of pay freezes and pay cuts six years of a one percent pay increase then pay freezes on top of that we have a absolute epidemic of in-work poverty four million people in in work poverty seventy percent of the kids in well in poverty you know are in families where someone's at work we're now talking about destitution within our country and i just give this warning to the government there's another pandemic coming it's a pandemic of debt 18 million people have incurred debts as a result of the pandemic in this last nine months joseph rowntree is saying just the scale of this debt that we've never seen before step change has said well the figures are nearly 600 000 people renters borrowing to keep a roof over their heads and i tell you what i was startled by is a hundred thousand people attempt suicide associated with debt every year joseph roundtree said 60 of those on universal credit have just gone for a loan in this last few months why to keep a roof over their heads put food on the plates for their children as well i am fearful of what's going to hit us next and i agree i don't want to hear the claptrap from ministers about comparisons with private pay the house of commerce library demolished that argument but i find it ironic that actually this is a government that has privatized public services and now complaining about low pay in the private sector there is a bizarre irony in that argument that government ministers use but let me say this one of our friends here is was the shadow chief secretary with me what hasn't gone past us is the economic illiteracy of this it's almost as though john maynard keynes was never born what you don't do in a situation like this is cut wages which cuts demand in the economy the argument will be well the government's borrowing a lot of course you borrow in this situation to make sure you pay the wages to those people on low pay who do what who spend their wages to increase the demands and make sure we can get out of this downturn as rapidly as possible so my advice to the minister is straightforward they need to get back round the table with the unions and start negotiating a decent pay rise and actually take a lesson from the chancellor dutcher of lancaster who before the select committee admitted having 200 bargaining units in the civil service was wasteful get back to one table one negotiation but about fairness of pay for those who've given so much over this last nine months just to keep this country's head above water peter dowd thank you mr stringer it's a pleasure to see you in the in the chair it seems that we are in a loop with this government as far as public sector pay is concerned in 2008 another attempt was made by the government to curtail public sector pay three trade unions at the time pcs prospect and the fda expressed their demand at the approach taken by the government at the time it said uh it is high time at the time we said it's high time the chancellor recognized the human cost of his disastrous pay cap and commit to giving our dedicated civil servants the pay they deserve we all remember that the coalition blamed the last labour government for not being prepared for the world financial crisis labour's banking crisis as they called it they said they had to get the public finances into shape and public sector workers were the first on the list with a decade of pay restraint members will remember the rather silly comparison with fixing the roof while the sun shines well the roof is well and truly falling in and so public sector workers will have to pay for it to be fixed according to the government here we are the worst crisis the country has faced on this government's watch it was simply unprepared despite the hard work of the public sectors my honorable friend referred to 5.3 million people with a public sector pay bill of 190 billion the government decides to pick on them yet again for every 1 pay rise it will cost around 1.9 billion in gross terms which after tax and national insurance is about a billion yet again an easy target the same old strategy set the public sector against the private sector set part of the public sector against other parts of the public sector it's a such a cynical approach so here's an idea there are 1200 tax reliefs for going 400 billion according to the institute for fiscal studies has the government bothered to look at any of them in detail so perhaps they could give the public sector the break it deserves after 10 years of restraint no very little work has been done it can't be bothered because the public sector workers will pick up the bill for the government's incompetence so let's take a few examples of the government could be a tad more imaginative capital gains tax relief for entrepreneurs is qualifying disposals 2.7 billion although coming down tonage tax a hundred million my bright honorable friend often referred to peyton box 1.2 billion relief r d relief 2.2 billion 300 million pounds worth of fiddles in that i'll stop there because it gets a little bit tedious i have a long list a very long list the government talks about incentivizing people and incentivizes it to makes all all right and the minister will tell us that there hasn't been any public sector uh disputes or pay pay rather problems these people need a pay rise i really ever very rarely ever bring personal matters into this house but i'll make an exception today my daughter would have been 32 years old today she died in a cycling accident 10 weeks ago she worked at the liverpool university hospital yes the nhs the public sector as does my wife her mother her friends and her colleagues as i did she and our colleagues worked hard they work hard i owe it to all those who work in the public sector to come here today and to speak out for them without question they deserve a decent pay rise full stop but in the light of the covert crisis it's time for some of those on the tax relief bond list and that's what it's been called take their turn [Music] and it's a pleasure to serve under your chairship today i will start by thanking my honourable friend the member for gower for securing this vitally important debate today and before entering parliament i had spent nearly my entire working life in the public sector and i can assure honourable members and friends that during my 30-year local government career morale was never worse than during the last decade the austerity programme initiated by the previous coalition government coupled with pay restraint amounting to substantial cuts in real terms pay brought unsustainable stress on public sector workers and services they provide average public sector pay is still 900 pounds lower today in real terms than it was in 2010 and hardly a period of shining progress in the run-up to the biggest public health crisis in our country's modern history and at the core of this unsustainability was the fact the public sector was never demanded to deliver less quite the opposite the drive for efficiency alongside the demand to deliver more with less severely hamstrung the capacity of the public sector to deliver the changes that were promised and whilst my direct experience is in local government the same is true right across the public sector we simply cannot disregard the previous 10 years as if they never happened rather they should act as the historical context for such debates like this one today as we look to the future and honourable members and right honourable members will know that over half of all key workers are actually public sector workers the race to the bottom has seen brand rishi divided the public sector because apparently not all are born equal as some are awarded meager pay increases whilst the vast majority are not they even use new language paul's instead of freeze is one such example and the public sector is under no illusions the photo ops on the steps of number 11 every thursday evening were exactly that a photo opportunity and nothing more during summer government went into a spin overdrive announcing above inflation pay rises for some of those public sector workers whose pay is recommended by pay review bodies government enacted those recommendations whilst leaving out those whose pay is not set by pay review bodies namely local government workers social care staff and thousands of junior civil servants whether workers received an uplift to pay a few months ago or not the entire public service public sector are now set to be hit again for at least the next 12 months this has left millions of key workers who continue to go above and beyond in the hour of our gracious need facing another lost decade and enough is quite simply enough there's so many examples i could give but i'd like to conclude by pointing out that the problems created by over a decade of pay restraint in the civil service have been compounded by the lack of a coherent pay system this has led to huge inequalities within and across departments with the gender pay gap standing at over 11 so i would like to ask the minister two things today when will the civil service move to a national pay structure to address these inequalities and when will all public sector workers be treated equally and rightly acknowledged with a substantial pay increase for the incredible work they do each and every day working on the front line thank you morris thank you very much mr stringer and thank you for calling me in this important debate and thank you to my a good and honorable friend the member for gower for opening this important debate on behalf of the petitions committee mr stringer in the time i've got i want to talk about two particular groups of key public sector workers i want to talk about prison officers and firefighters both of which are key workers key government workers in relation particularly to the prison offices they deserve our prayers recognition and respect for their bravery as indeed do firefighters not only during their pandemic but year in year out as honourable members may well know prison offices are banned from taking industrial action it's a it's a criminal offence to even suggest they should for example start working to rule so in return for the loss of this most basic human right the independent prison service peer review body was established in 2001 to make recommendations on pay recommendations the government agreed to follow in all but the most exceptional circumstances indeed to encourage people to join and stay in the prison service the independent prison service peer review body recommended significant peer rise for band 3 offices on fair and sustainable contracts with new modernized terms that have in effect created a two-tier workforce five months ago the government promised to consider this recommendation and consult with the recognized trade union the prison offices association on implementation however on thursday last the government rejected the recommendation claiming it was unaffordable and without having had any discussion with the prison officers association prison officers are understandably angry and have accused the government of nothing less than paid betrayal i understand that the prison officers association intends to launch a legal action against this decision and i hope that will receive the full backing of all honorable members in this in this place today the prison service is clearly experiencing a crisis in recruitment and retention especially of band three officers the main operational entry grade into the service the review body calculates the cost of new recruits leaving the service after less than two years service is around 30 million pounds per annum it's a wasteful and inefficient use of public money that's why the peer review body recommended an immediate three thousand pounds uplift in pensionable pair to try and stem the rising tide of resignations the government clearness is unaffordable however no exceptional circumstances have been cited to justify this decision as is required the government have indeed marked around four billion pounds for a new generation of private prisons yet they claim to have no money to pay prison offices that this is quite frankly an abuse of power and it's an insult to people's intelligence mr stringer the situation is unfair and unsustainable and our prisons suffer as officers walk with their fate and leave the service taking with them valuable skills knowledge and experience at a time when we need it most the government must think again treat our prison officers with the respect they deserve and get around the negotiating table with the prison officers association and make a fair and sustainable offer i also want to mention the firefighters i chaired a meeting the fbu group this afternoon they've had a p pay freeze in 2010 and 2011 followed by a one percent public sector peer cap imposed for six years from 2002 to 17.
they have thank you mr stringer it's a pleasure to serve under your chairship in today's debate and i congratulate my honourable friend the member for gower on a powerful and eloquent speech opening today's debate i'm not sure that i will add any unique points in today's discussions but some points fair repetition the first is that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the people who've been delivering our public services during the coronavirus pandemic some of them are in public facing roles jobs that simply cannot be done from home including social care workers refuse collectors firefighters border control staff people who've been working hard day in and day out exposing themselves and their families to additional risks in order to help keep us safe secure and well but others have been working just as hard but are often invisible they're amongst the unsung heroes of this crisis i think of the staff working at hmrc administering the job retention scheme all those in the department for work and pensions coping with a huge influx of new universal credit claims their work was just as essential in helping to protect jobs and livelihoods they were often unprepared and under resourced to deal with this new sudden demand but they stepped up and of course there are many others but their reward for this work is to be handed a real terms pay cut now the chancellor might try to use this softer language with talk of a paid pause rather than a freeze but soft language doesn't pay the bills prices are set to rise by 1.4 next year and i think many people will be even more shocked when they realize that their council tax bill is going to go up by five percent and thousands and thousands of public sector workers will be worse off including every single police officer every single teacher and 90 of armed forces personnel based in england for many of those workers as as many colleagues have already said this is just the latest kick in the teeth because public sector staff have already endured a decade of cuts in the value of their wages with many seeing their buying power cut by almost a fifth between 2010 and 2020 government ministers want to pit public sector workers against private sector workers but it's all smoke and mirrors private sector wage growth has fallen behind this year primarily as a result of furlough having previously run ahead and according to the ifs once the different profile of public sector workers in terms of experience education and other factors is adjusted for there's no difference in hourly pay rates compared to the private sector the truth is this divisive language helps no one we all lose as a result of these proposals and it's very noticeable that not a single backbench conservative mp has dared to turn up here to defend them now in nottingham 23 of all employees work in the public sector that's significantly higher than the average for the east midlands or britain although of course there are parts of the country where it's far higher still when those workers pay is cut they have less to spend in local shops and with local businesses freezing their pay harms the local economy it risks the jobs of the private sector workers employed in those shops and businesses and at a time when our local high streets are suffering real damage when small businesses don't know whether they're going to survive the pandemic this pay policy is delivering a further blow to confidence and risk further weakening a weak recovery the minister should think again we need action to save jobs to rebuild businesses and get the economy back on its feet instead of cutting real wages the government should be boosting them particularly for the lowest paid it's the right thing to do ethically and economically unusually there have been no interventions and some members haven't turned up so i'm going to increase the time limit for backbencher used to five uh minutes uh mary kelly for you thank you mr stringer it's a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship and thank you to the member for gawa for securing this important debate this afternoon i want to talk about the workers who throughout this pandemic have delivered furlough schemes processed millions of new claims for universal credit who've kept the courts ports and airports open and our prisons safe and secure when we as a nation applaud our key workers these key workers are often forgotten and worst of all they've been abandoned by the government unfortunately the words civil servant still conjures up visions of yes minister for many including it seems the government itself nothing could be further from the reality the truth is that civil servants have suffered years of real term pay cuts the average civil servant on a salary of 26 000 pound is now worse off by two thousand one hundred and ten pounds a year compared to two thousand and ten since the end of national paid bargaining there are over two hundred sets of pay negotiations in the civil service and related areas what that means in reality is that there are now huge inequalities in the pay of civil servants with many fallen into poverty pay for instance in hmrc twelve thousand staff around one in five are paid the minimum wage or just above it's unacceptable to have government workers forced into poverty then we come to another group of workers who so often get overlooked prison officers as the member for easelton has just said they deserve not just our praise but our respect for their courage in the course of their work year in year out covert has made a dangerous job even worse in my constituency we recently heard of an outbreak at hm franklin where over 200 members of prison staff were off with covert symptoms or self-isolating this puts enormous pressure on the remaining staff yet just last week the government rejected a k recommendation from an independent body to raise the salaries of those on the front line this is nothing less than a kick in the teeth of hard work and unloyal public servants as other members here have pointed out prison officers are banned from taking any sort of industrial action i disagree with this limiting of their basic rights but in their place the prison service peer review body recommended a significant pay rise for band three officers the government claim this is unaffordable without justification or reason and of course we know where this all leads prison officers will vote with their feet and leave the service they love losing valuable knowledge and experience at a time when we need it most as experience goes down violence goes up leading to more officers leaving and so on it's a vicious cycle civil servants do thankless work they don't want applause just to be rewarded fairly for the work that they do the government should listen to their trade union the pcs and start to restore the real value of their pay with a 10 increase on prison officer pay they should think again and listen to the prison officers association and the prison service peer review body these aren't excessive demands they're simply about keeping key workers heads above water giving them some decency respect and fairness surely that's the least we can do uh thank you mr stringer and it's a pleasure to serve on the york chairship and i want to say thank you to my honourable friend the member for gower for her excellent speech at the uh the introduction of this debate in fact all the speeches that we've heard today have been outstanding and i associate myself with all the speeches we've heard so far i also want to begin by thanking the 353 constituents of enfield southgate who have signed the two petitions which has led to the today's westminster hall debate i also want to thank our public sector workers who have been provided such an incredible public service whether it be in our hospitals in the social care sector our local councils our communities our schools our courts prisons across the whole justice sector and also in our job centres and across the course of all those working in the emergency services in every public sector uh which i've not had time to mention these have been incredible incredibly straining circumstances and but for their stepping up to help in this way uh within a lot worse situation and i know from speaking to public sector workers that working in the sector is a vocation for many people and they have a real desire to serve and this is despite a decade of cuts and austerity and the huge pressures that have been placed upon people just doing their everyday job i want to explode the myth that public sector workers get paid far more than private sector workers that's simply not true figures from the ons show that after years and years of below inflation pay rises and pay freezes but according to their statistics the illness say that the public sector workers and earn three percent less than private sector workers and we need to make sure that that isn't forgotten the government have chosen that rather than reward all public sector workers for their hard work they've chosen to divide and raw and give some public sector workers a pay rise whilst giving slap in the face to others and that's clearly unacceptable what the government don't realize is the huge amount of good will that public sector workers provide in doing their job under the most trying circumstances prior to becoming a member of parliament i worked in local government and i worked with some extraordinary people who would often go way beyond the call of duty to just get the job done and this was after years and years of cuts not only in staffing levels that made their work extremely hard but also in resources as well and in my borough of enfield during the staff pandemic i helped volunteer to deliver food parcels and that was arranged and organized by enterprise councils amazing staff who weren't doing their everyday job this was an additional job they were seconded to do to help make sure that people who were in a dire need got the food that they needed and that was an incredible achievement they showed that they were stepping up to do that so i ask in all honesty how can the government justify not giving these public sector workers a pay increase when the chips are down our public sector workers did what they had to do to get us through this and it's only right and proper that they get the reward that they deserve and not the appalling stub from the government november thank you mr strength stringer it's a pleasure to serve under your chairship i'd like to start by thanking my good friend the honourable member for gower for securing this important debate at a time when key workers have done so much on the front line of the kovic crisis to keep us all safe and our country moving i'd also like to draw attention to my entry in the register of members financial interest and particularly my trade union membership as a former retail worker on the shop floor for six years it's important for me to mention shop workers shop workers are key workers if there's one thing that this pandemic has demonstrated it's that the shop workers cleaners transport workers who are working at the cold face of this crisis are key workers who deserve our respect but also fair pay terms and conditions we must therefore look again at what support we give them recent research by trade union congress suggests that 3.7 million key workers that's 38 of all key workers earn less than 10 pounds per hour that is not reflective of the service they provide and is why we must raise the minimum wage to 10 pounds per hour at the very least as well as put an end to unfair youth rates moving on to the civil service the right honourable member for hayes and harlington made this point that the current system of having over 200 sets of pay talks is hugely inefficient when will the civil service address this poor practice by implementing a coherent pay system which covers all its workers through one set of centralized negotiations research by the public and commercial services union which has done so much to bring this issue to the fore and this petition has now received more than 100 000 signatures revealed that in the past decade since the conservatives entered government in 2010 civil service pay has fallen in value by up to 20 with the average civil sermon now worse off by more than two thousand one hundred pounds every single year not only is that unacceptable it is also completely unsustainable position for those who are earning less year on year but instead of rewarding government workers and local government staff for continuing to deliver council services during the most challenging circumstances this year there was a deep sense of injustice that the chancellor instead used his spending review to announce a public sector pay freeze the fire brigades union which represents firefighters who put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis subsequently criticize the government for divide and rule tactics which is understandable when the wealthiest corporations have been allowed to cash in on the pandemic without shouldering any of the burden there must also be a new deal for retail distribution and home delivery workers based around a real living wage as defined by the living wage foundation not the version this government has appropriated and guaranteed ours as we've seen time and time again during this pandemic it's imperative that we have a meaningful statutory sick pay the current provision isn't fit for purpose and offers little support for those who are sick having to self-isolate or look after loved ones a good route for the treasury to raise revenues by ensuring that businesses pay their fair share of tax by tackling tax avoidance and the use of offshore havens once and for all for example over the last 20 years amazon paid just 61.7 million pounds in corporation tax and that despite amazon's uk sales surging more than 26 to almost 14 billion pound in just the past year alone we cannot continue down the path where businesses can afford to pay out millions to shareholders but plead poverty when it comes to paying decent wages to staff members who created their profit and support our communities while the government stalls on its support for workers i'd like to take this opportunity to urge all workers to join a trade union to provide them with the protection and dignity they deserve thank you kate osborne thank you mr stringer it's a privilege to serve under your chairship and can can i congratulate and thank my honourable friend the member for gower and the petitions committee for this debate i also want to say thank you to my constituents who have contacted me about both public sector and key workers pay including 700 constituents who have put their names to both petitions that we're debating here today and as colleagues have already pointed out we cannot let this descend into an argument about leveling down there should be fair pay in both the private and the public sector we should not let this debate become a tool for the government to once again pick private sector workers against those in the public sector we see it week after week in pmq's the prime minister attacking the opposition for only caring or focusing on the public sector the prime minister recently said that the labour party has a deep underlying hatred of the private sector this of course is not the case but i asked the minister how can public sector workers support private businesses if they cannot afford to for to buy or pay to buy their products or pay for their services it simply makes no economic sense this pay freeze for public sector workers comes on top of an 11-year pay restraint ten years ago the government implemented a two-year pay freeze which was followed by a six-year pay cap of one percent and since then average salary levels in the civil service have fallen in value by comparison with inflation and has as has already been said but i think it's important so i will reiterate this point this means that the average civil servant on a salary of 26 000 is now worse off by over 2 000 pounds a year and hard-working civil servants in my gyro constituency simply cannot afford and frankly do not deserve a further freeze on their pay a great number of the civil servants in my constituency are employed by the dwp in newcastle many are administering benefits which are virtually at the same level of income as those actually receiving the benefits how is this a sustainable situation we all recognize the huge economic impact the pandemic has had but it is public servants and key workers across the sectors that have kept the country running during this difficult time and they deserve a pay rise not a pay cut in real terms not only is the pay freeze unfair it also makes no economic sense research from the new economics foundation found that paying all public sector workers a real living wage an increase in public sector pay would boost gdp by between 1.1 and 2.1 billion pounds with an increased tax take of between 370 and 700 million pounds there must be no return to the austerity program implemented in the aftermath of the crash ten years of the flatlining economy has exposed the economic illiteracy of austerity and a significant uplift in pay should be central to the post-pandemic recovery across all sectors of our workforce and yes we need to thank our public sector and key workers for all that they have done throughout this crisis and beyond but i say to the minister thanking them and clapping them on doorsteps etc is not enough they simply need a pay rise thank you ruth jones thank you mr stringer it's a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today and i'm very pleased to have the opportunity to speak briefly here in westminster hall and i'd like to congratulate my good friend the honourable member for gower on securing this important debate um a debate that reflects her long-held commitment to working people and i thank her for it mr stringer the people of newport west work hard and they look out for their neighbours and where they can they help out they never walk by on the other side and that's why so many of them have been in touch with me in recent weeks and months urging me to call on tory ministers to act and act quickly act on watson may ask well they want ministers not just clap they don't want nice words they want real action to show those who are keeping our country going that we really care and now we really do recognize their contribution in the most difficult of circumstances like so many in this house and across the country i've heard from constituents who want this place to do what our public sector and key workers have done for us in recent months to go the extra mile and show that we care before my election to this place mr string i worked in our national health service for over 30 years every day i saw people working to keep our communities safe and our people alive and the very least we can do is give something back as my honourable friend of the gower illustrated public sector workers have endured a decade of severe cuts in the value of their wages with many seeing the buying power of their pay packet fall by almost a fifth between 2010 and 2020.
at the same time the private sector has also far outstripped the public sector as private sector pay grew up between 2 and 2.5 per year during the six years of the public sector pay freeze and pay cap and as my honorable member the honourable friendly member for enfield southgate who is no longer in his place um he's upstated that the latest office for national statistics analysis shows that contrary to the myths public sector workers earn three percent less than private sector workers in comparable jobs these statistics show the importance of standing up for and siding with public sector workers in these tough times like members on this side of the house i will be doing exactly that and it's important we do so because the government's latest paid policy is set to heat further damage on public sector workers as the forecast inflation rate for 2021 suggests that all public sector staff outside of the nhs will see a decline in the value of their wages whether they receive their 250 pound payment or not whilst the government's paid policy should be opposed unconditionally and i do so with the knowledge that many of my constituents do so too there are still answers that ministers need to provide their rationale for the pay policy announcement was that the pay pause would protect public sector jobs what measures and funding will the government be putting in place to ensure that jobs are not lost and how is this objective being communicated to employers in the public sector and i look forward to the minister's explanation in her response later i know that time is short mr stringer but i wanted to speak today to show our key workers that there are some in this place who care and i join my honorable friend from gower and many others in pledging to do all i can to stand with them and stand up for them in the opportunity i have thank you thank you stringer i'm really grateful to be called in today's debate and thank the petitions committee for priority prioritizing such an important issue and i too refer to my register of interests we know that the petitioners have worked night and day to keep us safe over the last nine months and whilst they've had plenty of claps and slaps on the back the chancellor's statement came as a slap in the face when so many looked at their pay statements once again realizing that at the end of the month they still couldn't make the bills pay and the balances match and as a result of that it's absolutely right that we debate public sector pay in this place because britain does deserve a pay rise and whilst i welcome a pay rise for nhs workers we still don't have the the remit we still don't know how that process will work we don't know if it will be capped by the government to what extent and we don't know if the government will fund fully that we expect our cash-strapped nhs trusts to then dig deeper into the money they don't have but one thing's for sure we need to ensure that pay is across the board because it isn't just our nhs workers it's our care workers it's our local government workers it's the people that have worked through the through the night and trying to get people uh onto benefits as fast as they possibly could it's our teachers it's our firefighters it's our police that also need the recognition and so many more i could mention today and curtailing their pay just comes on the back of a decade of injustice in the pay system if i think about so many of those staff as well being subject to reorganizations which has resulted in down banding resulted in loss of wages as a result and also of course we have seen significant cuts to pensions deferred wages as well to many of these workers and all we are seeing in this statement by the chancellor is history repeating itself and of course we know for a decade it hasn't addressed the real economic crisis in our country it's just created another one and of course shifting the burden onto the lowest paid and if i may mr stringer when we come to the lowest paid in our country when they're given just a 10p an hour increase it is an insult after they have cared for the people at their time of need over the last few months not least those those workers in care homes who have really put their own lives at risk in order to support our communities but of course we know that these workers they're mainly women they're mainly black and ethnic minority they come fro as disabled workers too they're the people that are worst hit in our economy so there's a real pay injustice which is discriminating against those people which are working and of course the government are always proud to talk about their national living wage which is only 8 pounds 72 an hour when i think back to 2015 the chancellor then announced that by 2020 would be on at least nine pounds an hour and of course we're not even reached that point and of course labor uh made it very clear that the last election we believe that we should be starting at 10 pound an hour recognizing that people actually have to live and survive and pay their bills as opposed to having paid such pay restraint but this isn't at a huge cost to the government when they could borrow and invest which is what will make the difference in our economy the tuc calculates that a two percent increase just a two percent increase uh would boost gdp by 1.1 to 2.1 billion pounds money that the government could really um do with at this time and of course we'll see uh an increase uh tax take up of up to um seven million so this isn't a zero-sum gain um just for workers but also um government gains to what i would finally want to say because again time is limited that we do need to look again at how pay is being arranged in our country we know for so many workers they are not covered by any collective bargaining processes at all and as a result are then at the behest of their employers of having additional money at the end of the year to pay them it is completely unsatisfactory and it is particularly the low pay which are not part of collective bargaining arrangements and therefore mr stringer i call on the minister today to take a real review as to what is happening in across our pay system how it discriminates but to ensure that low pay workers are not left out of pay deals which is absolutely vital as they're the people most in need at a time when our economies need such investment and our workers need to be acknowledged for all that they have done i would say to the minister that it's time that british workers had a proper pay rise chris stevens well thank you mr stringer it's a pleasure to see you in the chair and as a someone who the house of commons library tells me the glasgow southwest constituency has the highest percentage of workers in public sector employment i think it's only fitting that i could contribute to this debate and i refer uh colleagues to the register of members interest my position is pcs parliamentary group chair as someone who worked 25 years before arriving in this place in the public sector and a proud trade unionist of 20 years trade union activity and i would safely argue mr stringer the best political education and lifelong learning that one can achieve as a being a trade union activist i want to i firstly thank the honourable member for fergie for leading the debate and i use the word debate advisedly because we've not had anyone who has justified the government's position as i'll come to but i think the history that others have a refer to is important and that is that in 2010 there was a two-year pay freeze and then it was a six-year pay cap of one percent and indeed other departments maintained that pay cap public sector workers and civil servants have during the last nine months performed heroics and the public the general public seem to think so too with over a hundred thousand people signing this petition now the points been made mr stringer that the devolved administrations have provided pay for nhs staff 500 pounds as a thank you payment and quite frankly we've seen a disgraceful response from the treasury who wish to take tax and national insurance of that particular payment and i really do hope that the treasury think again on that point now i want to confine i most of my remarks in relation to the civil service uh mr stringer and what they've done over the last nine months administering millions of new universal credit claims for the department of work and pensions processing furlough payments in hmrc and that's all despite and it has to be emphasized not providing staff for the proper equipment to carry out home working during the the covert crisis as we've seen in a number of departments including the department of work and pensions now the point has been made by colleagues uh in relation to hmrc and the problems of low pay in that department and i just want to emphasize again at the point that the median salary in hmrc is the lowest across the civil service now isn't that ironic given that one of the key roles of hmrc is to chase all these rogues who are not paying their tax the googles the vodafones and all these other companies who have not been paying their tax for years that the department chasing i'm trying to collect that tax has the lowest paid workers in the civil service and around one in five are paid the minimum wage or just above it but there's also another issue and it's clear mr stringer that the paid allegations also led to pay segregation by gender and that the gender pay gap has a it could only be reduced by increasing the pay of the lowest paid departments and agencies now as i've said mr stringer it was perhaps really disappointing that not one government-backed venture is here to justify the policy and people watching this debate would have been wondering why the government hadn't thrown the towel in in the middle of this debate but i can tell you mr stringer pcs members have been sharing the emails they've received from government backbenchers to their request to not go ahead with this public sector pay freeze indeed i think the politest term i've heard is short and sniffy responses because it seems that the position of many of the government-backed ventures is that public sector workers should be thankful for job security so our mps could perhaps tell that to the 2000 workers in hmrc facing redundancy at the end of the year and knowing that vacancies within that department are not being offered to them but are instead been farmed out to agency staff god knows what cost to the taxpayer although over a hundred thousand civil servants have lost their jobs in the last decade due to tory austerity now the prime minister did respond to me as was emphasized with the honorable forgiver that the prime minister was lost in admiration for the work of the civil service during covet well i can only suggest that pay freeze is an extraordinary way of showing it and the public sector pay freeze is both counterproductive and economically illiterate and it gets to the whole debate and role of the public sector itself 70 pence in every pound of public money before the pandemic consistent research showed that 70 pence and in every pound of public money ends up the private sector economy whether that's grants contracts or indeed public sector workers wages we really need to end the notion that public sector workers when they get a pay increase hide it in a shoe box and place it under the mattress that is not how it works i can tell you mr stringer because what happens is when people get more money just more money in their pockets they spend it and they spend it in the private sector so for serious about helping the private sector if we're serious about ensuring that the economic rules turn then surely it stands to reason that public sector workers as a thanks for all the work that they've done over the last nine months should get a proper pay rise and i hope that they uh that the minister will tell us what progress is being made and ending the 200 plus bargaining units across whitehall departments i hope that this government this a political party of small government and efficiency will tell us how they're going to enact that particular policy we're already seeing mr stringer workers in westminster departments moving to the departments of devolved administrations why because devolved administrations are paying better wages there can be no return to the austerity programme which has flatlined the economy public sector pay rise could start a post-pandemic recovery investment is now required in the civil service to apply to change circumstances in which we now find ourselves in and i mr stringer and my colleagues in the snp support the demands of the petition because it is morally just and it is economically sound bina opangasari thank you mr stringer it's a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship um i think my right honourable friend the member for goa for putting this important debate forward it's really important that we continue to support key workers at a time when they have all supported us through this difficult time throughout the whole country my honorable friend spoke about a number of things but i just wanted to touch upon the point where she mentioned the welsh government try to award care homes and the chancellor tries to tax them and she mentioned about the value for money for taxpayers and i agree with her point in that public sectors pay their taxes too and so they do deserve um to be treated really fairly i want to thank everybody that has spoken this debate to support key workers in their constituencies i have to say i am really disappointed that not a single tory mp has turned up to speak on this debate it's so important that we speak for those individuals that we seek to represent and the fact that not a single tory mp has turned up speaks a lot volumes on this matter there has certainly been a number of moving stories and passionate stories contributions from a number of colleagues from across the room highlighting the strength and passion of key workers across the country um the honourable member for hayes and harlington talked about the 10 years of pay freeze people are hurting and i wanted to echo his point where he mentioned that the minister should get back to the round table with unions to negotiate a decent pay rise and i really hope the minister does take that forward the honourable member bottle and jarrow and new newport newport west like many others um talked about um how it was so important that the public sector got to pay right get a pay rise and the honourable member for liverpool wavertree and enfield talked about their direct experience of working in local government and the honourable member for enfield also talked about how he's been delivering food parcels um one of the things i also wanted to mention is also the honourable member for liverpool way for tree and stockpot stockport talked about this the civil service the pressures that civil servants are facing at the moment and recommendation was made made to move towards a national infrastructure to recovery it'd be interesting to hear what the minister says on that point um i know you said the honourable member for eastern turn and city of durham talked about prison officers being treated with respect i just want to say completely echo those comments i've got free prisons in my constituency and i know the amount of pressures that they are facing right now the honourable member for nottingham south rightly pointed out that you know we're going to see council tax going up and obviously this is going to impact key workers whose salaries have been frozen for some time um and how is this sustainable and the honourable member for york central talked about the cuts to pensions and how essentially the story is repeating itself um and that the government hasn't really addressed the economic crisis um and the tempi an hour increases an insult and talked about the fact that the pay and justice has impacted women ethnic minorities and disabled people i just want to say that over the freezing the public set to pay was one of the first actions actually put by the coalition government in 2010 and this has been followed by a six-year pay gap of one percent and then we say that again a six-year pay gap of one percent over the past decade nhs workers have lost an average of 15 of their wages as their salaries have failed to rise in line with inflation and just on friday i heard from rcm members who talked about the impact this was having on them mentally and the amount of pressures they're under um the average civil servant on a salary of 26 000 is now worse off by 2110 across the um a year and as colleagues have mentioned the chancellor announced in his spending review that 2.1 million public sector workers will be earning less than 24 000 will receive a minimum of 250 increase because of an inflation a 250 pay increase will result in terms of a pay cut for any public sector working worker earning less than 18 000 once again the government has just shown how much they value key workers by hiding a pay cut at the heart of their false promises young people in my constituency yes being here at the beginning he would have heard me explain that only honourable members can take part in the debate if they're here at the beginning whether it's for an intervention or to make a a speech bina um the honourable um the chancellor announced in his spending review that um sorry young people my constituency of era from thames mead have been submitting portraits of key workers as part of my christmas card competition i asked them to write why the key worker they have drawn means so much of them one young person said to me i've chosen to draw many key different key workers they've been pushing themselves every day so they can help us they have put us first and we should be indebted to them does the minister agree that we are indebted to key workers given their hard work and sacrifice during this pandemic freezing pay for public sector workers is not only insulting it is irresponsible i am curious to know if the minister has given due regard to the impacts this pay freeze will have has the minister read the report by the tuc which found that public sector pay increases could boost gdpr significantly and this is something that has been echoed by a number of members in this debate does the minister recognise that imposing real term pay cut when 1.8 million key workers already earning less than the real living wage risk driving thousands into poverty can the minister explain how she plans to tackle the shortage of over 80 000 nhs and care sector jobs at the same time as freezing public set to pay over a million key workers face a real terms pay cut next year that is one thousand two hundred and fifty thousand police officers officers five hundred thousand teachers three hundred thousand service staff one hundred and twenty five thousand armed forces personal the chancellor has made it clear that he has no intention of backing our public sector workers by failing to reaffirm the government's manifesto commitment to ensure teachers starting salaries reach 30 000 by 2022 cutting universal credit and giving the go ahead for council tax rises and pushing more people into poverty council tax rises in the middle of a pandemic and making poor spending decisions that threaten to push our economy and public services to breaking point i want to conclude by quoting my honourable friend the member for gowar goa public sectors aren't asking a lot they just want their contributions to be recognized and claps don't pay the bills thank you mr stringer just before i call the minister can i asked the minister to leave enough time at the end we've got plenty of time for the proposal to uh wind up minister thank you mr stringer it's a tradition on occasion such as this to congratulate the honourable member for gower for securing the debate on the issue of the day today however we should also congratulate the thousands of people who secured this debate taking the time to express their support for key workers on hundreds of occasions in public and private government ministers have expressed their gratitude and respect for what our millions of key workers have done and i would like to do so again i would also like to express my condolences to the member for bootle and his family on the death of his daughter as a mother of three myself i cannot even begin to imagine such a loss we are divided by politics but united in our passion for public service and i pay tribute to both him and to her for all her service we tend to think of key workers as nurses teachers and police officers and their efforts as ever have been invaluable but in the context of the pandemic our understanding of who is key has rightly stretched far wider and this is pertinent for the subject of this debate understanding who is key extends to local and national government transport utilities and communications importantly many of those we've relied on are in the private sector the member for hayes said these are the people who kept the country going but it's not just the public sector food retail workers train conductors farmers lorry drivers every one of them a crucial link in the chain and every one of them also deserving so the substance of today's debate is asking why we choose restraint when it comes to the way some of those in the public sector are financially rewarded honorable members will know the answer many have in fact referenced fiscal policy since 2010.
they should all know and if not i'm happy to remind them that it was difficult decisions we made during that period that have enabled us to borrow to fund such a significant package of support members have repeatedly said today we should borrow we should borrow we should borrow we are borrowing who would have believed a year ago we would have spent 43 billion pounds on people to be furloughed who would have believed that we would have spent 13.7 billion pounds on the self-employed who would have believed a year ago that we would have spent over 280 billion pounds in total in the space of eight months on an unexpected pandemic and i also no i'm afraid i'm not giving away i'm also happy to remind honorable members that it was almost exactly a year ago after nine years of conservatives in government and the very policies that they have criticized here the very fiscal policies the very same fiscal policies the public chose to renew its faith and its trust in this government not just with an increased share of the vote but a much increased majority they'd heard these arguments over and over again since 2010 about what we were doing on fiscal policy they heard it again and again from many of colleagues on the other side who are not in the house today we all believe in fair pay but we disagree on where it's set but i have to remind honourable members today the public also want fiscal responsibility good government is about making the right choices to paraphrase the chancellor our health emergency is not yet over while our economic emergency has only just begun at a time like this it is the responsibility in fact the duty of government to prioritize and target support where it is most needed in a way that is fair and sustainable protects jobs and businesses and which limits long-term damage to the economy the honourable member for gower referenced many previous responses government has given on this she may not like the answer but the facts have not changed and i'm happy to repeat them here again fairness has been a guiding principle here as the chancellor pointed out in his statement on the spending review in the six months to september i'm not giving away i've already said i'm not please stop asking in the six months to september private sector wages fell by nearly a one percent compared to last year over the same period public sector wages rose by nearly four percent workers in the private sector have lost jobs been furloughed seen their wages cut and their hours reduced while those in the public sector have not for that reason the chancellor announced the temporary cause to pay awards for some public sector workers thank you mr stringer for that reason the chancellor announced a temporary pause to pay awards for some public sector workers for the year 2021 22.
disappointing though i know this will be this approach allows us to protect public sector jobs at this time of crisis and ensure fairness between the private and public sectors crucially as i have said we are targeting our resources at those who need it most first taking account of the pay review body's advice we are providing a pay rise to over a million nurses doctors and others working in the nhs second we are protecting those on lower incomes the 2.1 million public sector workers who earn below the median wage of 24 000 will be guaranteed a pay rise of at least at least 250 pounds not just 250 pounds in the spending review we also accepted in full the recommendations of the low pay commission to increase the national living wage by 2.2 percent to 8 pounds 91 an hour to extend this rate to those over to those age 23 and over and to increase the national minimum wage according to the commission those rates will give low paid workers a real terms pay rise and protect their standards of living without significant risks to their job prospects a full-time worker on the national living wage will also see their annual earnings increase by 345 pounds next year that's a pay rise of over 4 000 pounds compared to 2016 the year the policy was first introduced and taken together these minimum wage increases will likely benefit around 2 million people and help make real progress towards ending low pay in the uk the risk with broader brush measures including income tax on national insurance holidays wasn't made the point wasn't made particularly today but it is an important one to reiterate the risk with such uh broad brush measures is that it's difficult to define and limit who should benefit the result could merely be rewarding the better paid at a time when the government has already been forecast to borrow at record peacetime levels as a government we're committed to keeping taxes low in order that working people including key workers are able to keep more of what they earn in april 2019 the government increased the personal tax allowance of 12 500 pounds meaning in fact that the personal allowance is up by over 90 percent in less than a decade ensuring more of the lowest earners do not pay any income tax at all in april this year we also increase the national insurance contributions primary threshold and lower profits limit to 9500 a move which will benefit 31 million people add all that together and changes to income tax and national insurance contributions between 2010 2011 and 2020 to 21 mean that a typical base rate employee in england wales or northern ireland is over 1600 pounds better off a year mr stringer i will conclude by saying mr stringer i will conclude by saying that this government and all of the people of this country are grateful for everything our key workers in both public and private sectors have done and continue to do but in the choices we make we must chart a way ahead which is fair and sustainable and which gives us the very best chance of a strong economic recovery that is the thinking behind what we have done and it will remain the thinking behind what we do in the challenging months and years ahead as i believe it should thank you point of order singer um if i heard the minister correctly it was suggested that there was to be no job losses in the public sector and yet a number of us and the debates mentioned that there were two thousand redundancies in hmrc mr singer can you tell me how that the record can be corrected or has the minister just canceled the redundancy notices of 2 000 workers in hmrc that is not a matter of order it's not a point of order it's a matter of facts and for debate tonya antoniosi to wind up thank you mr stringer and it's um i will on behalf of the petitions committee thank the minister for the government response however i am very disappointed and many of my colleagues are in here today that she was unable to take uh any interventions from us in which is in what is meant to be a debate um so it is really difficult that this government doesn't recognizes the challenges that key workers face um it's evident that they're not hearing what people are saying when a petition has one has nearly 150 000 signatures and another just over a hundred thousand uh it's striking to all of us that our constituents and many people and key workers across the uk do not recognize what has been said in fact mr stringer i am only in this place because i was a teacher for over 20 years and since 2010 public sector workers pay freeze has had a massive impact on so many people's lives and the quality of their lives but what is going to happen from january the first when we don't actually know the impact on our key workers and how many will you know have to leave or may have to and enable to fill those jobs and i worry about the future because i worry about our future generations being a key key worker or being in the public sector means that you are in a vocation and this is what we've seen through the pandemic that people are in a vocation and they give of their their best to make you know to help everybody else and it's that vocation that drives them forward to be in a vocation is an honor but how do we tell our children ever that the education hammered that have not been able to ha set exams not been able to secure a future for themselves now how do we tell them that yes we welcome you know there are plenty of jobs out there they will be in the public sector but why would they want to take a job in the public sector when this is how they are treated by this government and does the minister recognize that imposing a real terms pay cut when 1.8 million key workers already earn less than the living wage risks driving thousands into poverty and it is that poverty moving forward that i am concerned about it's the poverty when we have to at christmas and throughout the year be volunteering at food banks and and that we have to be delivering food hampers for people that just can't put it on the table it is not good enough and to not reaffirm your manifesto promises is an absolute disgrace but i would like to say mr stringer that i could go on and on and on and i will not do so because my colleagues have not had the opportunity to have a proper debate in this hall and that is extremely disappointing but i thank you mr stringer for your chairship and to all those petitioners who tried to get their message across today but unfortunately were not listened to and we were unable to have a proper debate thank you the question is that this house is considered e-petitions 306 845 and 328 754 relating to financial rewards for government workers and key workers as many as are of that opinion say i of the country know i think the eyes have it the eyes have it order order the sitting is suspended until 6 pm and if honorable members can leave the room promptly by the exit door on my left while observing social distances you
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