The Government should take on board recommendations of independent review bodies regarding the public sector pay cap, Michael Gove has said.
The Environment Secretary broke ranks as he piled pressure on Theresa May and Philip Hammond, both of whom have received increasing criticism after the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party came together to vote down Labour’s amendment to the Queen’s speech calling for the end of the public sector pay cap.
Pay rises have been capped at one per cent since 2013 with a two-year freeze before that. Now Mr Gove has called on the Government to respect the “integrity” of the pay review process and take on any advice which is given.
“I think that we should listen to the pay review bodies who govern each individual area of public sector pay,” Mr Gove said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
The Conservative party went into the election with a pledge to maintain the cap until 2020, and Mr Marr suggested the policy itself actually set the parameters for review bodies’ recommendations.
“They take account of that, but they also take account of other questions as well, including the number of people who enter the profession, whether we need to have an increase in pay in order to ensure we get the very best people into the profession,” Mr Gove said.
“These pay review bodies have been set up in order to ensure that we can have authoritative advice on what's required, in order to ensure that the public services on which we rely are effectively staffed and the people within them are effectively supported.”
Mr Gove also suggested he was “suppressing” his personal views on austerity to ensure the cabinet could function effectively.
“You sometimes have to suppress your own views. I sometimes might suppress mine in order to ensure that we can operate successfully as a collective team.”
Maria Caulfield, the Conservative MP and former NHS nurse, said the pay cap coming to an end was “inevitable”.
When asked if Ms May would bow to the pressure, Ms Caulfield said the situation was “being looked at seriously now”.
“We need to look at independent pay review bodies recommendations and look at those. But in nursing in particular it isn’t just about the pay cap, I was getting increasingly frustrated as a nurse about the pay structure,” she said on Sky News.
The comments came as cabinet ministers continued to push Ms May and Mr Hammond to ease austerity after the Tories lost their majority in the general election.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has apparently demanded the pay cap is lifted for NHS workers, according to the Observer.
Mr Hunt isn’t the only minister to do so, as Education Secretary Justine Greening also told Ms May she wants the Prime Minister to abandon plans to cut per pupil funding.
Damian Green, the newly appointed First Secretary of State and effectively Ms May’s deputy, suggested a dramatic rethink was required on a range of policies if the Tories wanted to regain voters they had lost to Labour.
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