- Theresa May to review 1% cap on public sector pay.
- Cap had been due to continue until at least 2018/19.
- Conservatives say they have “heard the message” that people want an end to real terms cuts.
- Labour says it welcomes “retreat” on austerity.
LONDON — Theresa May is to review the cap on public sector pay, her spokesperson has indicated, saying that the public is “weary” of continued government austerity.
Increases to public sector pay has been frozen at 1% for the majority of the past seven years, with the Conservatives committed to continuing the freeze until at least 2018/19.
However, a spokesman for the prime minister said on Wednesday the government would look again at the freeze on public pay when the chancellor sets his budget in the autumn.
“There is a fiscal event coming up in the autumn and it will be spelled out then,” he said.
“There are a number of pay reviews reporting and we are going to be considering their recommendations.”
Asked whether May had dropped her commitment to the cap, a senior Conservative party source said the prime minister had “heard the message sent in the election” that the public was “weary” of continued austerity.
“We are going to listen to the messages that were sent in the election and we understand that people are weary after years of hard work to rebuild the economy,” he said.
Asked if they would drop the cap, they replied: “Public sector pay restraint is one of the tough decisions we have had to make. We are working through the pay recommendations.”
The comments follow the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon saying this morning that the government were considering lifting the cap for all public sector workers.
Fallon said lifting the cap was “something we have to consider not just for the army but right across the public sector as a whole”.
Labour said they welcomed the government’s “retreat” on public sector pay.
“It’s clear that the very sharp increase in Labour’s votes and number of seats and the fact that its’ a minority government means they had had to make a number of concessions to the public’s view [on austerity],” a source close to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said.
“It’s very encouraging they’re clearly having to make concessions to public opinion.”
The British Social Attitudes survey, published on Wednesday, found that support for increasing public spending is at its highest level since the 2008 economic crash, with just 4% wanting further cuts to the public sector.
Labour is now calling on Conservative MPs to support their Queen’s Speech amendment on lifting the cap due to be voted on today.
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