CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak’s decision to freeze public sector pay next year is not just bad news for those directly affected but bad for all of us.

The Chancellor made much of the fact that he was exempting the lowest paid from his pay freeze. Those paid under £24,000 will get a flat rate increase of £250 and the National Living Wage would go up by 19p/hour.

Given predicted inflation, these amount to just another pay cut. And, what about those working on ‘zero hour’ or ‘contact time only’ contracts - something many in social care do? No mention of their case.

People on lower pay tend to spend more of their income locally than do high earners. After this review the many thousands of workers on low pay who have kept public services running during the pandemic will have less to spend and local businesses will suffer.

Public services will suffer too. People will not take jobs in the public sector when they can earn more elsewhere.

Nationally, official statistics show adult social care vacancy rates rose from 5.5 per cent in 2013 to 8 per cent in 2018 a period in which pay was frozen resulting in a fall in real terms.

The Government was too slow in reacting to the rise of Covid-19, costing lives and depressing the economy. The Spending Review’s patchwork of measures for public services is not what’s needed as UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said on the state of our social care: “What’s needed now is a proper plan for reform. A national care service to drive up standards, increase pay and attract much-needed recruits.”

Geraldine Reardon