Public sector pay rises must be flexible but also affordable, says May
3 October 2017
Any pay rises for public sector workers like nurses and teachers must be "affordable for the taxpayer", Theresa May has said.
After seven years of increases being frozen or limited to 1%, the Prime Minister raised hopes of a more generous pay round next year when she said last month that independent review bodies would be asked to show "flexibility" when making recommendations.
But she has now signalled that the end of blanket pay caps for public sector workers does not mean the era of restraint is over.
Mrs May told BBC One's Breakfast: "What we have said for next year is we accept there needs to be a degree of flexibility in the system in looking at these issues.
"But of course everything that we do does need to be affordable, and that is why we recognise that you need to take a balanced approach to our economy.
“So, yes, we have to deal with our debt, we have to be careful about our public finances. It’s by doing that, by maintaining a strong economy that we are able also to do what we are doing, which is put record levels of funding into our public services.”
Asked whether she could guarantee that nurses, teachers and care workers would get more money, Mrs May said: “The way that we do this is that we ask an independent group of people, the pay review body, to come up with their proposals.
“We wait to hear the results of what those independent people are saying to us and then obviously Government takes a decision.
“What we’ve done is said to those groups of people, as they look at nurses’ pay and teachers’ pay for the future – and pay for the others in the public sector – that we expect that they will be looking at a degree of flexibility.
“We’ve had a blanket cap in the past. We accept there needs to be some flexibility. But of course it all needs to be affordable. It needs to be affordable for the taxpayer, many of whom of course are nurses and teachers and people working in the public sector.”