Rishi Sunak set to announce pay freeze for millions of workers
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.”
Boy, 11, left in critical condition after being hit by police van
Awful news this morning
A boy has been left in critical condition in hospital following an incident with a police van last night.
The 11-year-old was struck by a police van in Lancaster on Thursday night, May 25th, as the van was attending a call.
Lancashire Police say the vehicle was en route to an emergency call when the collision happened.
The boy was crossing Owen Road just before 8:30 pm when he was hit, and was transported to Royal Lancaster Infirmary in a critical condition.
A police spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the child’s loved ones at this time.
“An investigation is underway to establish the full circumstances that led to the collision.
“We have voluntarily referred this matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), as is standard with an incident of this nature.”
The IOPC said in a statement: “We have declared an independent investigation into the actions of Lancashire Police prior to a road traffic collision in Owen Road, Lancaster at around 8.30pm tonight, in which a child has been injured.
“We understand that a marked police van, with its lights and sirens on, was in a collision with an 11-year-old boy.
“We were notified by the force shortly after the collision and declared an investigation at 10.37pm. IOPC investigators are heading to the scene and the police post incident procedure to begin gathering information.”
According to the IOPC, the investigation is in its early stages.
Sam Smith cancels upcoming shows due to ‘vocal cord injury’ and tells fans ‘I’m so sorry’
‘Refunds will be available at point of purchase for all three dates; Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow’
Sam Smith has cancelled their upcoming shows due to a vocal cord injury and issued a statement telling fans, ‘I’m so sorry’.
The singer had to call off their Gloria Tour show, mid-way through, at Manchester AO Arena last night (Wednesday May 24th) after experiencing ‘vocal issues’.
The lights went off and fans waited in darkness for a number of minutes as speculation circulated on social media, with many wondering if there had been a ‘power cut’.
Moments later, after just four songs, a packed-out arena was told the show unfortunately had to be called off.
Afterwards, Sam, 31, issued a statement on their Instagram stories to tell fans — who had missed out on a ‘surprise’ that was supposed to be at the end of the show — how ‘sorry’ they were.
Today, Thursday May 25th, the ‘Unholy’ singer has issued another statement after calling off upcoming gigs.
On their Instagram stories, the star wrote: “Due to vocal issues during last night’s Manchester performance, regrettably we will be cancelling the rescheduled Birmingham and Glasgow Sam Smith shows.
“Refunds will be available at point of purchase for all three dates; Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
“A spokesperson said ‘Doctors have advised due to a vocal cord injury, Sam must have complete vocal rest’.
“Sam is heartbroken to have had to cancel these shows but they have been told by doctors that if they keep singing, they will do permanent damage to their voice.
“If they take some rest they will be able to perform again. I’m so sorry.”
Sam already had to push back the Birmingham and Glasgow gigs after suffering from a virus several weeks ago.
After calling off last night’s show at Manchester’s AO Arena, Sam wrote on their Instagram story: “Today in soundcheck I felt fine and was so excited to give Manchester an amazing show tonight, with a special surprise at the end.
“During my third song, I noticed something wrong with my voice. I prayed it was just my voice waking up for the show but into the fourth song I could feel something was really wrong.”
The pop singer added: “I came off stage and have tried everything to get my voice back in gear but it won’t.
“I am honestly heartbroken I couldn’t finish the show tonight for you all. I love you all. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.”
Body found in river in search for missing 24-year-old woman
Shannon’s family have been informed
A body has been found in a river in the search for a missing woman from Lancashire.
Police searching for Shannon Canning from Lancaster say they have found a body. The 24-year-old had been missing from home since the early hours of Friday May 19th.
A search operation was launched to find the young woman who did not turn up for work at Tipple bar on Friday afternoon.
Public appeals for help were launched by her family and the police force, who said they were concerned for her welfare as the disappearance was out of character.
Lancashire Police have confirmed the body of a woman was found in the River Lune near Halton on Wednesday afternoon, May 24th. Shannon’s family has been informed.
Patrols were increased during the week and specialist divers joined the search yesterday. Officers were called at around 4.20pm Wednesday afternoon when the discovery was made.
A statement from Lancashire Police said: “Sadly, officers searching for missing Shannon Canning have an update, following a body recovered from the River Lune.
“We can confirm that we were called today (May 24th) at around 4:20pm to a report that a body had been found in the River Lune, near Halton.
“Specialist search teams have subsequently attended the area and can sadly confirm that the body of a woman has been recovered.
“Although formal identification has yet to take place, we believe the body to be that of missing Shannon Canning.
“Shannon’s family have been made aware of this sad development and our thoughts are with them at this upsetting time.”