The chancellor is preparing an announcement of squeezed public sector pay in light of the economic shock of the pandemic, according to reports.
Government sources say the announcement will be part of a mini-budget on Wednesday and will include plans to launch a Whitehall savings drive to tackle record levels of borrowing.
It will also see the tightening of public servants’ pay – many of whom were at the forefront of the government’s pandemic response.
Up to five million public sector workers are reportedly facing the pay freeze.
Those set to foot the bill for the government’s spending include soldiers, police officers, teachers and civil servants.
It is understood that NHS staff, nurses and doctors are exempt from the pay cap.
Rishi Sunak is expected to argue that it is ‘not fair’ public sector workers receive pay rises while private sector employees are losing jobs and enduring pay cuts.
In real terms, public sector pay is falling behind where it was a decade ago due to Tory austerity.
In July, Sunak launched a spending review where he warned that public sector pay would need to keep ‘parity’ with private-sector wages.
He wrote at the time: “In the interest of fairness we must exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards, ensuring that, across this year and the spending review period, public sector pay levels retain parity with the private sector.”
The rightwing thinktank, Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), explained that freezing the wages of 5.5million public sector employees for three years would save £23 billion on the Treasury bill. It is expected Rishi Sunak will use this report as the basis in his consideration.
Stopping wage increases would, in effect, be a pay cut as wages would not keep up with the rate of inflation which is currently 0.5%.
Instead, if the pay rise was capped to just 1%, analysts think this could ‘save’ up to £11.7billion.
The CPS – set up by Margaret Thatcher and whose director was one of the leading authors of the 2019 Conservative manifesto – claims private-sector workers have ‘suffered far more than those in the public sector’.
It says in its ‘Public Sector Pay: The Case for Restraint’ report: “The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe, but the pain has not been shared equally.
“Some businesses are folding under the strain, public finances have been decimated, while the public sector has escaped relatively unscathed.
“Healthcare workers aside, it is difficult to justify generous pay rises in the public sector when private sector wages are actually falling.
“At the same time, there is a need to control public spending and reduce the structural deficit which the pandemic is likely to have opened up.
“The Chancellor should redress this imbalance by showing restraint when it comes to pay and pensions in the public sector.”
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “Freezing their pay is no way to reward key workers for their service. Unions will fight for the proper pay rise they have earned. Working people must not bear the burden of the crisis.”
Dave Prentis, the general secretary of Unison, said: “The government must do what’s right next week and announce the wage rise staff have more than earned. Anything less risks destroying morale when the entire country is counting on them.”
Rehana Azam, national secretary of the GMB trade union, said: “Billions are being wasted, flowing out of Treasury into the pockets of their chums. Some people are benefiting from the pandemic while our workers are working throughout it.
“It’s dangerous territory for the chancellor if he imposes pay restraint as a way of offsetting the cost of the pandemic. We’re not through it, we’re still in it. Does he really want to do this when people’s morale is so low?
“When people have lost loved ones and people they’ve worked with, is now the time to kick them even more? I don’t think it would go down well.”
New government proposals could see cat owners fined £500
Here’s everything you need to know…
Cat owners could be slapped with hefty fines under a subtle new rule change proposed by the government this week.
The new plans propose that all cat owners must ensure their pet is microchipped before they are twenty weeks old – there, the cat’s details will be stored and kept up-to-date in a database.
If a cat owner is found to not have microchipped their cat, however, they will have twenty-one days to get their pet microchipped or risk facing a fine of up to £500.
Government figures show that out of the 10.8 million pet cats in the UK, as many as 2.8 million are still not microchipped. And, according to Cats Protection, eight out of ten stray cats coming into their centres are not microchipped.
The charity added that the procedure only costs between £20 and £30.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen.
“These new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country and will be brought in alongside a range of other protections we are introducing under our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”
Chill Factore forced to close after section of roof damaged by Storm Barra
Major damage to the roof has forced the popular attraction to close
The Chill Factore has been forced to close after a section of its roof was damaged from severe winds brought on by Storm Barra.
All activities at the Beyond building, which houses an indoor ski slope, have been cancelled for the rest of the day, with car parks surrounding the Trafford attraction closing ‘with immediate effect’.
In a statement on its website, Chill Factore said: “The Beyond building has sustained some damage due to the severe winds.
“As a result we’ve made the difficult decision to close our building and surrounding car parks with immediate effect to protect the health and safety of our guests and team.
“All activities for the remainder of the day have been cancelled and we are in the process of contacting guests with bookings for today to rearrange their activities.
“We are awaiting contractors to come and assess the damage and we will provide more information as soon as possible through our website & social media accounts.”
This comes after the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning in various areas across Greater Manchester ahead of the arrival of Storm Barra.
The second named storm of the season hit the region today, bringing with it plummeting temperatures plummeting and heavy rainfall.
Forecasters say travel disruption is ‘likely’, especially over higher routes, as is delays to rail and air travel. There is also the ‘slight chance some rural communities may become cut off’.
The Met Office said: “A deep area of low pressure moving in across the UK from the Atlantic is likely to bring high winds to many parts of the UK.
“Strong winds arriving into the west through the morning, spreading inland and reaching eastern areas through the afternoon and early evening. Gusts of 45-50 mph are expected widely, with 60-70 mph in exposed coastal locations.
People who kill children will face mandatory life sentences under new Arthur’s Law
The law has been named after six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his stepmother last year
The Prime Minister has backed a newly proposed law that will ensure child murderers will never leave prison.
Following the horrifying death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Boris Johnson has announced that his government will be amending the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to make ‘whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes’.
Johnson said in a statement: “Anyone who plans then carries out the murder of a child should never be released from prison. So we’re toughening the law to make whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes.
“The Attorney General is also urgently considering the facts of this case and the sentence handed down, but this is a Government that will always legislate for the toughest possible sentences for such repugnant crimes.”
Arthur’s stepmother Emma Tustin was jailed last week for at least twenty-nine years for his murder, while his father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to twenty-one years for manslaughter.
However, the attorney general announced over the weekend that the sentences are to be reviewed to ‘determine whether they were too low’.
According to The Guardian, the AGO has twenty-eight days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme and make a decision as to whether to refer a sentence to the court of appeal.
Arthur died in Solihull, Midlands on June 16th 2020, as a result of a serious head injury inflicted by Tustin. His body was also covered in 130 bruises.
It was later discovered that the six-year-old had been starved, beaten and poisoned with salt in the weeks leading to his death.
Harrowing footage recently released by West Midlands Police show a weak and emancipated Arthur struggling to lift his duvet from the living room floor, where he had been forced to sleep.
Social worker and member of the House of Lords Herbert Laming said the reduction in funding for social care in the last ten years meant abused and neglected children like Arthur were being missed by the authorities.