Clapping in spring, freezing in winter

There is no doubt that keyworkers in Bristol right across the public sector deserve a meaningful pay rise – rather than the freeze being discussed ahead of the Chancellor’s spending review on Wednesday.

Our care workers continue to look after the most vulnerable, police officers have patrolled our streets and, after building new temporary hospitals, our armed forces will surely support the logistics of rolling out any vaccine. Yet reports now appear that after clapping keyworkers in the spring, the Government will be cutting their wages in real terms this winter.

We all know just how much pressure is on family finances in Bristol. While many Bristolians have struggled to make ends meet, while the Government has mulled plans to freeze the minimum wage. This in spite of the Financial Times reporting that two million UK employees were paid less than the legal minimum wage in April – five times more than the year before – because the least paid were most likely to be furloughed. Workers and industries continue to cry out for more support, which we hope will be comprehensively resolved when new tiers are announced later today.

For all their talk of not returning to austerity, and with councils facing a funding gap of billions due to broken promises during the pandemic, this Government risks repeating the economic mistakes of austerity – and making some five million people worse off in the process.