Public sector pay cap should continue despite criticism, St Albans MP Anne Main and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami say

Bim Afolami and Anne Main. Photo: DANNY LOO/OFFICE OF ANNE MAIN

Bim Afolami and Anne Main. Photo: DANNY LOO/OFFICE OF ANNE MAIN - Credit: Archant

Capping public sector pay is the right thing to do despite widespread criticism from the public, St Albans and Harpenden MPs have said.

Anne Main, who represents St Albans, and Bim Afolami, who was elected to the Hitchin and Harpenden in June, were among the 323 Conservative and DUP MPs to vote against a Labour motion calling for the public sector pay cap to be scrapped.

They came in for criticism from their constituents, with St Albans resident Siobhan Osgood writing to say: “I am utterly disgusted. In light of recent events which saw the public sector front line services respond to terrorist attacks and tragedies.”

Asked why she had written the letter, she said: “I have worked in the public sector my entire working life and I have not had a pay rise, and it is holding people back.

“There is some idea the public sector means a gold-plated pension, but that is not the case. The working conditions are atrocious.

“People are doing longer hours, lots of them unpaid. If someone retires they are not being replaced, and the workload is being passed on to others.”

Mr Afolami argued the motion would have done nothing to change public sector pay and instead was a political stunt.

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He pledged to pressure the Treasury to look again at lowest-paid public sector workers, such as nurses and trainee teachers.

“I have been clear our public sector workers do need a pay rise and the place to do that is the Budget, in a fiscally sustainable way,” he said.

But he added: “I do not think headteachers on £100,000, senior civil servants, or council chief executives need them.”

Mrs Main echoed his sentiment, arguing front-line staff ought to be the priority.

She said: “Governments have to look at the best possible ways to manage the finances and continue to strive for fairness across all sectors.

“We have a deficit bigger than our entire schools budget and this would have cost the public over £9billion per year.

“That’s not the way to help those on the front line and it’s not the way a responsible government should look after taxpayers’ money.”