The Conservatives in Brighton: Public-sector pay freeze signalled

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Indy Politics
A FREEZE on public-sector pay rises was signalled yesterday by William Waldegrave, a member of the Cabinet committee reviewing the public expenditure cuts.

In a separate move, Mr Waldegrave said that the Top Salaries Review Body could be wound up and replaced by another independent body, as part of a long-term review of its work.

Mr Waldegrave, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Cabinet minister responsible for the Citizen's Charter and Minister of Public Service and Science, told conference that the charter was part of a revolution to improve public services.

He emphasised the importance of performance-related pay across Whitehall. Later, he refused to rule out a freeze on some public-sector pay rises and said that restraint would be 'tight'.

The Cabinet committee, known as the EDX committee, has still to reach decisions on the level of pay awards, but ministers believe that the Treasury's original target of limiting them to 2 per cent is now too high.

However, Mr Waldegrave hinted that the Cabinet committee has to resolve the problem of freezing pay rises and promoting performance-related pay.

Mr Waldegrave is planning to give evidence to a range of review bodies on the need for pay restraint. But he will also urge the adoption of more performance- linked pay rises.

Ministers believe that development could make many pay review bodies redundant. There is strong support for the Top Salaries Review Body to be wound up, after embarrassing the Government by recommending high pay rises for some top civil servants to catch up with salary increases in the private sector, at a time when the Cabinet was warning against inflationary pay awards.

'There is a fundamental review of the TSRB going on. We are going for more flexible pay for the public sector. I am sure that is the way forward in the long term.'

Mr Waldegrave said he would support the abolition of the TSRB, but added: 'You would need an independent body to make sure it was not politicised.'

Emphasising that the Tories were not opposed to public services, Mr Waldegrave said the Government intended to improve them by setting standards through the charter, and by subjecting them to competition.

'We can find the resources for decent services and keep taxes down, but only if we lead a revolution in the way those services are delivered,' he said.