Bishop of Southwark asks about pay rates for keyworkers

The Bishop of Southwark received the following written answer on 25th January 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the claim by the Trades Union Congress that thousands of key workers are earning less in real terms than they were a decade earlier.

Viscount Younger of Leckie (Con, Treasury): To examine the real terms earnings of key workers, we focus on public sector workers – which represent the majority of key workers.

Public sector pay in real terms (total pay, deflated by CPI) has grown at an annualised rate of 0.2% over the last decade (since the three months to November 2011). The level of public sector average weekly earnings (in real terms) is now in line with that of the private sector in the three months to November 2021.

The public sector has, on average, better remuneration packages than the private sector. ONS suggested a 7% premium in 2019 (controlling for characteristics, including pensions). In 2020, the median salary in the public sector was £3,500 higher than the private sector, this gap is most acute amongst the lowest paid, where ONS data suggests public sector average hourly wages are 20% higher.

Looking ahead, pay for most frontline workforces – including nurses, police officers, prison officers and teachers is set through an independent Pay Review Body process. Public sector workers will see pay rises across the whole Spending Review period (2022/23-2024/25) as the strong recovery in the economy and labour market has allowed us to return to a normal pay setting process.


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