Millions of Brits facing wage freeze to pay for crippling coronavirus pandemic

Millions of Brits will be hit with a pay freeze next year in a bid to help the government repair the budget from coronavirus pandemic spending, it has been reported.

Nearly four million people will face the freeze as Chancellor Rishi Sunak looks for ways to pay for the amount spent this year, reports suggest.

Public sector workers will reportedly foot the bill, including soldiers, police officers, teachers and civil servants.

Next week the Chancellor will announce there must be a "pay restraint," reports The Times.

But it has also been reported nurses, doctors and other NHS workers are expected to be exempt from the freeze.

It is believed the chancellor will argue it is not fair for public sector workers to receive a pay rise when private sector employees are losing their jobs or enduring pay cuts, according to reports.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies is said to believe a pay freeze for 3.7 million people would save the Government £3.4 billion, but the number of workers affected could be even higher.

The money would go some way towards plugging the black hole in Britain's finances, although it is still short of the more than £200 billion spent fighting the pandemic so far, reports Mirror.

Mr Sunak originally sparked fears of a raid on public sector pay in July when he launched the spending review.

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At the time, he warned public sector pay would need to keep "parity" with private sector wages, which were feared to have tumbled in the pandemic.

The threatened pay cuts come after the Centre for Policy Studies said freezing the wages of 5.5million public sector employees for the next three years would slash £23billion from the Treasury bill.

Failing to hike salaries would in effect be a real-terms pay cut because wages would not keep pace with inflation, which is currently 0.5%.

Up to £11.7bn could be “saved” if increases were limited to 1 per cent, analysts said.

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The CPS – which was set up by Margaret Thatcher and is led by Robert Colvile, who helped write last year's Conservative election manifesto – claims private sector workers have “suffered far more than those in the public sector”.

Unveiling its report, ‘Public Sector Pay: The Case for Restraint’, director Mr Colvile said: “The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe, but the pain has not been shared equally.

“Some businesses are folding under the strain, public finances have been decimated, while the public sector has escaped relatively unscathed.

“Healthcare workers aside, it is difficult to justify generous pay rises in the public sector when private sector wages are actually falling."

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