LONDON — Theresa May has been accused of offering public sector workers a “real terms cut” to their income during a fiery exchange with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Downing Street announced on Tuesday that the 1% cap on public sector pay rises would be lifted, with prison and police officers offered up 2% extra over the coming years.
However, unions have rejected the offer, which is below the current rate of inflation.
The Prison Officers Association said it amounted to a real-terms pay cut, coming on the same day that inflation jumped to 2.9%.
The chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, Steve White, said his members would be “angry and deflated” at their pay award.
The Labour leader used his appearance at prime minister’s questions to accuse May of offering workers a “real terms cut” to their income and said the raised cap on pay would be paid for by further cuts elsewhere in the public sector.
Watch Corbyn mock May’s public sector pay U-turn
The prime minister said the pay offer was based on “independent” advice from the pay review body and said the government needed to “balance out protecting jobs in the public sector [while] being fair to taxpayers who pay for it.”
Corbyn also accused the government of being out of touch with public sector workers, highlighting reported comments by the Chancellor Philip Hammond about his own large wealth.
“A Conservative Prime Minister once told Britain they have never had it so good. Now Tory MPs tell each other we’ve never had it so good,” Corbyn said.
Watch Corbyn and May clash on pay
“The prime minister rejected the criticisms, telling Corbyn that it’s “only the Conservatives that can deliver a better Britain.”
She also accused Corbyn of betraying voters, by his decision to opposed the EU (withdrawal) Bill earlier this week.
Watch May accuse Corbyn of letting voters down.
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