The Labour party in Scotland have claimed that the proposed one year pay freeze on public sector workers earning over £21,000 per year amounts to ‘Tory Cuts’.
The attack from Labour’s finance spokesman Andy Kerr (pictured) followed an announcement by John Swinney that a key plan intended to protect jobs and front line services next year will involve those paid from the public purse to forego a pay increase if they earn over £21,000.
Mr Swinney spelled out the plans in a statement made at the weekend that lays out the ground prior to his announcement of the Scottish budget on Wednesday. The Scottish government are facing a £1.3 billion cut to next years grant as the UK struggles with the financial deficit left behind by the last Labour administration. The SNP have claimed that Scotland now needs full fiscal autonomy in order to grow the economy and mitigate the damage caused by the crisis in the UK’s finances.
The SNP’s finance secretary has said the restraint on pay will save £300 million and safeguard 10,000 jobs. He also promised other measures to help to offset the pay-freeze such as extra funding to prevent council tax rises.
Mr Swinney said: “The council tax freeze, along with other measures such as scrapping prescription charges, will make the pay restraint that is necessary fairer and more acceptable,
“And that restraint will enable us to protect employment, by maximising the resources available to invest in frontline services and economic recovery.”
Labour have responded by accepting there has to be pay restraint but launching an attack on the SNP proposals arguing that it is not the Scottish Government’s job to implement such measures.
Labour’s finance spokesman Andy Kerr said: “I accept that tough decisions will have to be made and, in particular, there will have to be pay restraint in the public sector, but it is not the Scottish Government’s job to implement Tory cuts for them.
“A Labour Government in Scotland would use this budget to provide low-paid workers with a living wage and take action to provide training and employment for young people.”
The SNP plans were welcomed by other opposition parties with the Lib Dems arguing that they should have gone further.
Speaking for the Lib Dems, Jeremy Purvis said
“We support a public-sector pay freeze for those earning over £21,000 but we also believe the pay bill for those earning over £80,000 needs to be cut by 10%,”
Tory spokesman Derek Brownlee said:
“We would rather people were in work with a pay freeze than out of work with no freeze at all.
“The Scottish Government’s position is very welcome news, as Scottish Conservatives have been calling for a pay freeze in the public sector since January.”
Mr Brownlee added:
“A public-sector pay freeze would protect jobs and help secure the recovery.”
Unions in Scotland are reported to be planning to reject the 12 month pay-freeze proposals.