TORY MPs last night backed calls for the government to consider scrapping a pay cap for public service workers – just days after voting against a motion calling for the same thing.
Penny Mordaunt and Caroline Dinenage are the latest MPs to throw their weight behind calls to review a one per cent limit on annual rises.
It comes after all the area’s Tory MPs rejected an amendment in parliament by Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn urging the government abolish the cap.
Since then, top Tory cabinet members have rebelled, with health secretary Jeremy Hunt, foreign secretary Boris Johnson and environment secretary Michael Gove among the senior MPs leading calls for change.
Yesterday, Downing Street insisted there is ‘no change’ in the government’s policy on the public sector pay cap.
Speaking of the situation, Portsmouth North MP Ms Mordaunt said Whitehall needed to stand up for public sector workers and if the cap was lifted she would back low earners.
But the minister for disabled people, work and health said Labour’s amendment plea during last week’s Queen’s Speech was ‘a political stunt’, adding such a move was a matter to determine at the next budget.
She said: ‘The pay cap was introduced because public sector pay was much higher than the private sector when the economy was in the doldrums.
‘I understand how demoralising this has been for people and it is right as the economy improves we look to lift the cap.’
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage would also back a change to the pay cap. However, she said a blanket percentage pay rise would see top-earners profiting more than those on the breadline.
She claimed the proposed Labour amendment would have seen those already on the highest salaries ‘disproportionately benefit at huge expense to the public purse’ and it could have put public services and jobs ‘at risk’.
‘The present situation does need to be addressed, and there is considerable support within government to see this happen,’ she told The News.
Stephen Morgan, Labour MP for Portsmouth South, hit back, saying: ‘The Tories had their chance to put politics aside and support our public sector workers but they failed us all.’
Praising the ‘hard working public servants’ of the nation, he added: ‘We need a fairer deal for public sector workers. The government must finally listen. The cap should be scrapped.’
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes said the Labour amendment was an ‘attempt to bring down the government’, and that if it had been passed, it would have led to another election.
‘That is why I did not support the amendment,’ she said, claiming that ‘all Conservatives would like to increase pay’ of people working in the public sector but that the UK faced a ‘huge problem’ in doing so financially.
Recommendations for one per cent pay rises for 2017/18 for nurses, doctors, dentists and members of the armed forces have already been accepted by ministers.
But further recommendations are still to come from review bodies dealing with teachers, police, senior civil servants and prison officers.