Team Rishi has slammed Liz Truss over her policy announcement last night that she can save up to £8.8 billion by replacing National Pay Boards with Regional Pay Boards. This sum immediately raised eyebrows given the total Civil Service salary budget is around £16.5 billion. The footnotes of the press release specified this figure is “the potential savings if the system were to be adopted for all public sector workers in the long term,” allowing her opponents to spin the policy as one of cutting nurses’ and teachers’ pay in the Red Wall while improving the pay packets of those in London and the South East. Tees Valley Metro Mayor Ben Houchen is not happy:
“There is simply no way you can do this without a massive pay cut for 5.5m people including nurses, police officers and our armed forces outside London.”
“Liz Truss’s campaign is explicit that their savings target is only possible ‘if the system were to be adopted for all public sector workers’.”
“This is a ticking time bomb set by team Truss that will explode ahead of the next general election.”
Team Rishi’s got their calculators out:
“In total more than 5 .7 million public sector workers would see their pay being cut by an average of £1,500 a year under these plans (Dividing Liz’s £8.8 billion savings by the number of public sector workers having their pay cut – 5.7 million).”
Rishi also uses Liz’s policy to once again accuse her of being the one succumbing to Treasury orthodoxy, after the Institute for Government pointed out on the Today Programme this morning that it’s a policy that comes up for discussion every decade: first in 2002, then under the coalition, calling it a “very Treasury idea”. Rishi doubles down by calling the policy “a gift to the Labour Party and Keir Starmer. Her plan would punish hard working nurses, police officers and soldiers across the country, including in the Red Wall just before a General Election”. Rishi was already reportedly performing better among Southern members – can this latest attack help him claw back up North?
Team Rishi have tin-ears, arguing against reforming civil service pay to reflect local market conditions and for keeping a national pay rate using TUC attack lines that are a misrepresentation of the policy. Something the TUC has long defended when both Blair and Cameron tried unsuccessfully to reform. Will members side with Rishi and the TUC arguing for no change, or policy change based on local pay rates?
UPDATE: Team Truss say
“Over the last few hours there has been a wilful misrepresentation of our campaign. Current levels of public sector pay will absolutely be maintained. Anything to suggest otherwise is simply wrong. Our hard-working frontline staff are the bedrock of society and there will be no proposal taken forward on regional pay boards for civil servants or public sector workers.”