Govt ignored warnings public sector pay cap would push children into poverty, document reveals

The government ignored warnings that the public sector pay cap would push children in working families below the poverty line, a new document uncovered by GMB has revealed.

29 Oct 2018| News

A Freedom of Information Request made by the union led to the publication of a Ministerial Decision Record from 2015, in which civil service advice detailed the negative impact a continued wage freeze could have on state employees.

Ministers were warned that pay rises of only 1% would not be “likely to keep pace with inflation” and “could increase financial pressure on families of public sector workers, which may have a negative impact on family relationships”.

They were also told that the settlement would “make it more difficult for low-income families with children to access essential goods, and will therefore make it harder for the government to hit the Child Poverty Act targets”.

Despite this advice, former Chancellor George Osborne went ahead with the 1% pay cap – which was not lifted for another four years – while Ministers also considered freezing workers’ wages at 0% for two years.

GMB reported that the Treasury had delayed publishing the document until it was instructed to do so by the Information Commissioner.

“Public sector workers have been forced to leave their homes, use foodbanks and many of our members are unable to fund basic necessities for their children such as an annual holiday,” GMB National Secretary, Rehana Azam, said.

“This damning document is a mark of shame on ministers who imposed years of real-terms pay cuts in the full knowledge that it would condemn families and children to poverty.”.