Gordon Brown has announced that he is going to freeze the pay of top civil servants, judges, generals and doctors to save £3 billion in defiance of the recommendations of an independent salary review which recommended small increases.
The armed forces will get a 2% rise and junior doctors will also be given a small increase.
In what seem to me to be a blatantly electioneering a speech to the City audience Brown announced his intentions to freeze the pay of senior civil service staff, military, the judiciary, senior managers in the health service and the pay of consultants, GPs and dentists.
He says that the measures will save money immediately and by 2013/14 save more than £3 billion.
He also announced that the Budget will be in two weeks’ time on March 24, which suggests that the election for Westminster will be held on May 6. The Times predicts that manifestos will be published during the week beginning April 12 and the controversial presidential debates on Thursdays each of the three full campaign weeks.
The Times suggests that Brown, along with Mr Mandelson, Balls and Ed Miliband, have looked at the possibility of holding the election earlier but have rejected it.... presumably on the basis that May 6 coincides with the English council elections and there is only so much politics the average Englishman can stand.
The pay freeze for the “top” people was justified by a Cabinet Office spokesman suggesting that it was right that senior staff should show leadership.
However, Jonathan Baume, general secretary of the First Division Association, said that the government was insulting hard-working public servants by rejecting proposals from the independent review body to raise the minimum pay for senior civil servants to address long-standing anomalies.
I’d be the last to advocate pay rises for the so-called “top” people. After all many already earn vast amounts that put them on a different planet from the rest of us. They will trot out the old chestnut that they could earn more in the private sector, which begs the question..... why don’t they go do that if the money means that much to them?
However, it’s a bit rich that Brown is prepared to over-rule the pay increases recommended for these people and let the MPs’ increases go ahead. And it is farcical for the Cabinet Office to suggest that senior staff should show leadership whilst MPs bury their snouts deeper in the trough.... AGAIN.
Incidentally, I was pleased to read in the Courier that Dundee East’s SNP MP Stewart Hosie has announced that he will not benefit from the pay increase, but will instead give the money to local charities. Labour’s Jim McGovern, MP for Dundee West, has declined to take his pay rise.
I think that both these men should be congratulated on their stance, and I hope that many other members will follow their good example.
(Pictured is Bill Cockburn CBE Chair of the Senior Salaries Review Body)