A majority of the public believe the public sector pay cap has been unjustified and agree now is the time to remove restraints on workers’ wages, according to new polling for The Independent.
It comes as Downing Street said earlier this week that the seven-year public sector pay cap is to be scrapped, unveiling a 1.7 per cent hike for prison officers and improvements totalling 2 per cent in policy pay for 2017-18.
It is expected that ministers will announce further rises for other workers in the public sector at the Chancellor’s Budget in November.
Asked about the restraints on public sector pay since 2010, 51 per cent of those polled said they have been unjustified while just 26 per cent said the Government had been justified in using the austerity measures.
A larger majority – 62 per cent – said now is the “right time” to lift the restraints on workers’ pay in the public sector with just 14 per cent agreeing with the statement “it is not the right time”.
But the poll also highlights that the Prime Minister has limited political capital to gain from lifting the cap, with more people interpreting the end of the contentious policy as a victory for the Labour leader.
Asked which of the party leaders was most instrumental to change the policy on public sector pay, 32 per cent said Jeremy Corbyn, 22 per cent said Theresa May and 46 per cent replied “don’t know”.
The results also come after the Prime Minister faced a humiliating defeat in the Commons over a Labour motion to increase pay for health professionals in the NHS and remove the public sector pay cap.
While the motion was non-binding and does not require a change in government policy the fragility of Ms May’s administration was exposed as the Democratic Unionist Party – responsible for propping up the Government – said it would vote with Labour to end the pay cap. The motion passed without a vote as Downing Street quickly became aware that the Government had no majority to oppose the call