Low-paid workers £2,500 worse than 10 years ago even before Sunak's pay freeze

Millions of low-paid workers are already thousands of pounds out of pocket before next year’s public sector pay freeze.

Key people keeping the nation going during the pandemic are up to £2,500 worse off in real terms than 10 years ago if inflation is taken into account, says the TUC.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week announced the freeze for more than three million public sector workers from next April.

But the return to austerity-style wage restraint follows a ­decade of pay caps.

If the 2010 wage of ­local government residential care workers had kept pace with inflation they should now be on £23,247 a year.

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But their average salary this year is £21,748 – making them £1,499 worse off. Firefighters’ pay has dropped an average £2,508 in real terms while teachers are £1,389 worse off.

Refuse collectors have seen their pay fall by £1,526.

As key workers, they have continued to graft throughout lockdowns and local restrictions during the pandemic.

Doctors, nurses and other NHS staff will be exempt from the freeze. And public sector workers earning less than £24,000 a year will get at least £250 more.

But this could amount to a real-terms pay cut after inflation.

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TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said ‘Unions will fight for the proper pay rise they have earned’

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Carers, firefighters, refuse collectors and teachers all worked around the clock during the crisis to keep the country going – often at great personal risk.

“After a decade of lost pay, yet another pay freeze is no way to reward our key public sector workers.

“Unions will fight for the proper pay rise they have earned.”

Care workers have been tending some of the most vulnerable.

Firefighters have picked up the slack

Firefighters have taken on additional tasks like driving ambulances and delivering PPE.

Refuse workers have often been in conditions that don’t allow for proper social distancing.

And some teachers carried on so parents of other key workers could get to their jobs.

Mr Sunak says he cannot justify public sector pay rises when the private sector has been badly hit.

But official figures show that real wages growth over the past decade when adjusted for inflation has been minus two per cent in the public sector compared with plus 2.5 per cent in the private sector.

How pay rates have fallen in real terms

list below in order shows occupation; pay 2010; real terms; pay 2020; change

Residential care worker £19,126; £23,247; £21,748; -£1,499

Firefighter £28,199; £34,275; £31,767; -£2,508

Refuse collector £18,453; £22,429; £20,903; -£1,526

Teachers £31,552; £38,350; £36,961; -£1,38


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