Public Sector regional pay 'a more explosive issue than pensions’


UK Parliament starts new year with Plaid Cymru debate on 2012's 'biggest industrial issue'

In a Plaid Cymru debate, the Houses of Parliament will begin the New Year tomorrow debating the issue of public sector regional pay, a subject which Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards calls ‘a more explosive issue than pensions’ and warns will be the biggest industrial issue of 2012.

The 90-minute Westminster Hall debate, which begins at 9:30am on Tuesday, 10th January, will examine the rationale and issues for Chancellor George Osbourne who announced in late 2011 that he had asked pay review bodies to investigate ‘local-facing’ pay and would seek to introduce this next year in 2013-14.

Plaid Cymru have criticised the proposed introduction, which builds upon the former Labour government policy in the Ministry of Justice, arguing that it will institutionalise low pay and create employment ghettos, as well as acting as an excuse to cut public sector pay in countries and regions outside London.

Jonathan Edwards MP said:

“Public sector regional pay is a more explosive issue than pensions and will very probably be the biggest industrial issue of 2012.

“The Chancellor wants to reduce public sector pay across countries and regions in the UK because he believes that it keeps private sector pay low in those areas.

“He is looking down the wrong end of the microscope and should instead be seeking to support private sector industries to increase their wages.

“Given the UK Government’s record on public sector workers – real terms pay cuts for middle range staff, more than 700,000 job losses taking place in six years and pockets being picked on pensions – this is just an excuse for Osbourne to make cuts through some sort of reverse London weighting.

“This will lead to a downward spiral as those public sector workers will have less money in their pockets, if they have a job at all, and will have less to spend, with an obvious knock-on effect upon the local private sector.

“These proposals will institutionalise low pay in those regions and create employment ghettos where people will not wish to move because workers there will be forced into low pay and low ambition.

“With the ongoing public sector pensions dispute still unsolved, regional pay proposals will increase government-union tensions and likely lead to further industrial action this year.

“While Cameron is worried about the pay-packets of his multi-millionaire friends and backers, Plaid Cymru are worried about protecting ordinary people’s pay.”


1. Jonathan Edwards’ debate on ‘Regional Pay in the Public Sector’ will take place between 9:30am and 11am on Tuesday, 10th January, 2012. It will be the first debate in Parliament of 2012.

2. Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne.

From the Autumn Statement, 29 Nov 2021 Hansard Col 802

“…I can also announce that we are asking the independent pay review bodies to consider how public sector pay can be made more responsive to local labour markets, and we will ask them to report back by July next year. This is a significant step towards the creation of a more balanced economy in the regions of our country which does not squeeze out the private sector…”

Questioned by the Treasury Committee on regional pay on 7th December, 2011.

Q306 Michael Fallon: Turning to local pay-page 37 of your document-is the idea to get local pay up and running by April 2013?

Mr Osborne: Today, I have written to the chairs of the pay review bodies and asked them to come back to me by 17 July next year, from memory, and to provide me with their advice on local-facing pay. That would give us the opportunity to introduce it for the 2013-14 pay round.

3. Regional pay was first introduced by the previous Labour government in 2008 in the Ministry of Justice.