These Yorkshire areas could be hit worst by public sector pay rises being paused, says TUC
The TUC said cutting pay rises for key workers in the public sector in England would mean a £1.7bn economic hit in the year to March 2022 as workers lose spending power.
Of the worst-hit parliamentary seats, seven would be in the North West, seven in Yorkshire and the Humber, five in the West Midlands and three in the North East, said the union organisation.
The TUC's data said the hit for Yorkshire and the Humber was £163m, an average per constituency of £3m. Among the worst-hit areas were the constituencies of Leeds Central, Sheffield Central, Hull West and Hessle, Bradford West, Wakefield, Doncaster Central and York Central.
In his spending review last year, Chancellor and North Yorkshire MP Rishi Sunak imposed a "pause" in pay rises for at least 1.3 million public sector workers as he described the "tough choices" facing the UK in the face of the pandemic.
It means an estimated 1.3 million public sector workers will see their pay frozen in 2021-2, though most NHS workers and those earning less than £24,000 will still get increase.
The TUC's analysis calculates the hit to the economy from the difference in economic activity expected if pay settlements go ahead in full, compared with if the chancellor implements the cuts.
But its findings were criticised by two think-tanks, who called for pay restraint and for public spending to be brought under control.
TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams said: “Key workers have kept Yorkshire and the Humber going through the pandemic. The Prime Minister clapped them, but his applause will ring hollow if he cuts their pay. It’s no way to thank them.
“We’re all part of the same pay circle. When a key worker spends their wages, it goes into other people’s pay packets. Shop staff, factory workers, delivery drivers, childminders, bar staff – right across the economy, we are all connected.
“If our key workers get the pay rises they’ve earned, it will benefit everyone. The spending boost will help our local businesses and high streets recover quickly. And it will help level up our unequal economy.”
Professor Len Shackleton Research Fellow at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: "Come rain or shine, you can always rely on the TUC to demand higher pay for public sector workers and an increase in minimum wages.
"Oblivious to the current crisis, they tell us that 'cutting rises' in public sector pay would mean less spending power for workers. But without pay restraint public spending will increase still further and this will ultimately mean higher taxes, with somebody else – mainly other workers – having less spending power.
"Higher public sector pay in poorer regions makes it more difficult for private sector employers to recruit workers and makes investment in these areas much less attractive. We need an end to national pay settlements that continue to distort the labour market."
Labour's Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “We wouldn’t have got through this past year without key workers. They deserve recognition, not a pay cut. Boris Johnson has been happy to clap health workers on his doorstep, but that’s as far as it goes.
"His proposals for a pay freeze are a kick in the teeth. From nurses to supermarket staff, teachers to delivery drivers, key workers in Sheffield Central have earned a pay rise and it is about time we recognised their contribution. If the Government is serious about levelling up, it would start here.”