Union bosses have urged Rishi Sunak, after the Budget confirmed that a pay freeze would be lifted, to push for a massive pay increase for public sector workers. 

A year-long pause on pay increases is over, but ministers have refused assurances that workers will see a real-terms rise in rising living costs. 

TUC union told the Chancellor that he must propose a ‘pay increase for all public sector workers that at minimum matches the cost of living’. 

The union warned that the increase in pay must be paid through new funding and not existing departmental budgets. It also warned that if this happens, the freeze will end ‘in name only. 

UNISON also stated that a pay rise that is less than inflation’s rate is effectively a pay reduction. The latest measure of consumer price inflation stood at 3.1 per cent. 

Union bosses are urging Rishi Sunak to bring forward a massive pay rise for public sector workers after the Chancellor confirmed a pay freeze will be lifted at the Budget

Union bosses have urged Rishi Sunak, after the Budget confirmed that a pay freeze would be lifted, to push for a massive pay increase for public sector workers.

A year-long 'pause' on pay hikes is due to come to an end but ministers have refused to guarantee that workers will receive a real-terms increase amid growing cost of living pressures. House of Commons Library figures show average public sector pay is above the private sector

The year-long pause on pay increases is coming to an end, but ministers have refused guarantee that workers will get a real-terms raise in the face of rising living costs. House of Commons Library statistics show that average public sector salaries are higher than those in the private sector.

Mr Sunak claimed that the UK’s economy is now firmly back on track after the coronavirus outbreak, which allows him to reduce the pay restraints in the public sector. 

The Chancellor will confirm he is scrapping the public sector pay freeze at the Budget tomorrow, paving the way for a possible wage increase next year for more than five million workers including teachers, nurses, police and armed forces personnel. 

The Chancellor ‘paused’ public sector pay increases for 2021/22, with the exception of the NHS and those earning less than £24,000, after heavy borrowing during the Covid-19 crisis.

Last night, Mr Sunak stated that the economy was rebounding after the lifting of the virus restrictions and that frontline workers would see their wages rise.   

However, there is no guarantee that the increase will exceed the rising cost of living. Workers could still feel worse off.

Mr Sunak has not yet stated how much wages will rise, although the increases are expected to be announced next year after independent pay review bodies make recommendations. 

Downing Street refused to draw the line, insisting that the ‘process is for independent review bodies to look into’.  

The Government had already announced it will increase the minimum wage for around two million workers, with those aged 23 and over seeing their pay increase from £8.91 an hour to £9.50 as of April 1. 

Critics have raised concerns about how workers will fare if the Chancellor increases National Insurance and cuts Universal Credit to meet inflation.

TUC claimed that average earnings have only just reverted to 2009 levels, and it pushed for generousness from the Chancellor. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Everyone who works for a living deserves a decent living. However, the last 12 year have been the most difficult for wage growth since Napoleonic time.

“We need a proper plan tomorrow from the Chancellor to get pay increasing across the economy.

“This means that public sector workers should receive a minimum wage increase equal to the cost for living. Rishi Sunak will not increase the budgets of his departments. The pay freeze will end in name only.

‘And ministers should strengthen rights for workers to bargain for higher pay through their unions, and immediately increase the NMW to £10 an hour.’ 

Christina McAnea, general secretary at UNISON, said that there is no reason to celebrate. Pay freezes should not have been implemented in the first instance.

‘Unless extra money finds its way to ​individual government departments, the freeze will continue. Any pay increase less than the rate inflation is effectively a pay reduction.

‘Ministers must also find the ​cash to give NHS workers the proper pay award they’ve more than earned. That goes for council​, school and other public sector ​staff who’ve ​either been offered ​nothing or substantially less than the cost of living.’

Sunak stated that the economic impact and uncertainty caused by the virus forced him to make the difficult decision to suspend public sector pay in a statement.

“Along with our Plan for Jobs this action helped protect livelihoods during the peak of the pandemic.

“Now, with the economy back on track, it’s right for nurses, teachers, and all other public sector workers who contributed to the pandemic to see their wages rise.” 

Officials indicated that the Government will request ‘full recommendation’ from the sector pay bodies. Awards will be announced next year.