New money must be provided to cover public sector pay rise, PCC warns

Merseyside / July 22

Merseyside Police Commissioner has welcomed the news that police officers will receive a ‘long over-due’ pay rise, but has urged the new Prime Minister to ensure funding is provided to cover the increase – or risk leaving Merseyside Police’s budget short by more than £2m next year.

An estimated £2bn public sector pay rise has been confirmed by the Treasury today (Monday 22nd July) which will see 2 million public sector workers including police officers, soldiers, teachers and school staff receiving increases of between 2% and 2.9% to their salaries.

It is understood that police forces, and other public sector organisations, will be forced to make cuts to fund the rise from their existing budgets. The confirmed 2.5% increase for police officers would leave Merseyside Police needing to find approximately £2.2m from its own budget over the next year.

The region’s Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, has warned of the consequences of forcing this bill on to the shoulders of struggling public sector organisations.

Jane said: “All of Merseyside’s 3,467 police officers deserve a proper pay rise after almost a decade of real-terms pay cuts. This increase is long overdue and our over-stretched police officers are worth more than an increase which is only just over inflation.

“However, I am concerned that no detail has been provided as to where the funding for this pay rise will come from and it seems very likely that the Treasury is expecting it to come out of our existing budget. This pay rise must be properly funded. If new funding is not provided then this will cause a £2.2m hole in Merseyside Police’s budget for next year.

“The Government says they are rewarding our hard working public servants, but if they make police forces, schools and hospitals fund this pay increase from existing budgets it means those employees will be even more stretched and under-resourced in their daily working lives as the force struggles to cope with this new budgetary demand.

“Savings will have to be made elsewhere in order for us to cover this bill and the government will effectively be giving with one hand, only to take away with the other.

“As we await an announcement on who the new Prime Minister will be, I am inviting the successful candidate to make a pledge to fund this increase centrally. Our new Prime Minister needs to show they genuinely care about public servants and the vital services they provide to our communities by giving officers and staff the pay they deserve, without further cutting the organisations they work for.  I would urge whoever steps into Number 10 on Wednesday to make this a priority.”

Today’s announcement comes following a recommendation from the independent pay review bodies, which advise on pay for many public sector workers. Public sector pay was frozen for two years in 2010, except for those earning less than £21,000 a year, and after that rises were capped at 1% - below the rate of inflation.