Aiken warns more public sector workers set to miss out on latest pay increase as a result of ongoing stalemate at Stormont

Ulster Unionist Finance Spokesperson, Steve Aiken MLA, has warned that tens of thousands more local public sector workers are set to miss out on increases in pay as a direct result of no Ministers being in place at Stormont to sign off on any decision.

The UUP Chief Whip was commenting after the UK Government announced in Parliament new wage increases of on average 2% for more than one million public sector workers in England and Wales.

Dr Steve Aiken said:

“I have long argued that the 1% public sector pay cap across the UK needed to be lifted. It caused a significant fall in the real terms salary of public sector workers and undoubtedly greatly affected morale across the workforce.

“Last year Theresa May made the welcome announcement that she was at last going to lift the 1% cap, and since then key public sector workers such as police officers, prison staff and health workers, and now teachers and members of the armed forces across England and Wales have all been awarded increases in their pay.

“Yet as public sector pay is mainly a devolved issue locally, and as there no Ministers in place to take a decision or sign off on any major increases, it seems inevitable that once again most workers in Northern Ireland will miss out.

“The new Permanent Secretary in the Department of Finance, Sue Gray, has now been in post for two months so I have written to her today asking what she is proposing to do to resolve the deepening pay gap between public sector workers here compared to those in GB.

“To those political parties that think their politicking and posturing is having little impact on the lives of local people, this is just the latest example of how they are sorely mistaken.

“The retention and motivation of our public sector workers is key to its success, yet in Northern Ireland all we are doing is heightening their sense of frustration and feeling of deep unfairness.

“Whilst this latest pay increase may come from existing budgets, for others this hasn’t been the case. In fact, the major increase in pay announced in March of over 6% for NHS workers for England and Wales, was entirely new money. Whilst that has meant more money coming to Northern Ireland through the Barnett funding system, there is no suggestion at all that the money will be used to pay for a similar pay increase here and instead I suspect it will simply be used to fill the black hole in local finances.”

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