The new MP for Consett, Laura Pidcock, has taken aim at the government’s policy of only allowing public sector pay to rise by 1% per year.
Ms Pidcock, who was recently elected as MP for North West Durham with a majority of 8,792, slammed the reaction of Tory MPs to a Labour amendment to the Queen’s Speech that would have lifted the public sector pay cap.
Writing in The Guardian, Ms Pidcock described how “the government won the vote, we lost, and the coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party bore fruit – for the Tories, at least.”
“In their glory, the Conservatives cheered. They laughed, they smiled, they gestured to us like kids in a playground. But it was far from a joke.”
“To me, their laughter was blood-curdling: they were laughing at the very emergency and public services that they praise when it suits their purpose.”
“To laugh at freezing a person’s wages is grotesque and proof they are completely disconnected from the people they have the privilege to represent.”
The 1% public sector pay freeze has been in place since 2015 when it was introduced by the then-chancellor George Osbourne.
— Laura Pidcock MP (@PidcockNWDurham) June 28, 2017
The policy, which is set to continue until 2019-20, means that public sector workers – like nurses and teachers – can only receive rises that are below the current rate of inflation, representing a pay cut in real terms.
The public sector pay freeze has been criticised by the tax and spending think tank The Institute for Fiscal Studies, which stated, “Recruitment and retention problems are emerging in the public sector following successive years of public pay restraint.”
“The government’s current plan of 1% increases for the next two years risks exacerbating recruitment problems and ultimately reducing the quality of public services.”
Laura Pidcock continued, “To have your wages fall in value year after year places a heavy weight on a professional person’s soul.”
Ms Pidcock dismissed Boris Johnson’s claim that he would ideally like the public sector pay freeze to end as “nothing more than playing politics in preparation for a leadership bid.”
In her maiden speech to Parliament – which she delivered last week – Laura Pidcock criticised the ‘outdated’ aspects of Westminster.
She said, “This building is intimidating. It reeks of the establishment and of power. Its systems are confusing. Some may say archaic.”
“It was built at a time when my class and sex would be denied a place within it because we were deemed unworthy.”
(Featured image courtesy of Chas B, from Flickr Creative Commons)