Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Regional Pay Plan Support Is Cooling; Controversial Proposal Faces Huge Backlash

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Regional Pay Plan Support Is Cooling; Controversial Proposal Faces Huge Backlash

Article excerpt

Byline: William Green

DOWNING Street yesterday signalled the Government is cooling support for plans to introduce regional pay for public sector workers.

The Government has faced a growing backlash after Chancellor George Osborne first raised the idea last year, with members of both coalition parties joining Labour MPs and unions in criticising the proposals.

Opponents of the plans say regional pay will mean wages for Northern nurses, teachers and other public sector workers unfairly fall behind their counterparts in the South.

Concerns have also focused on how regional pay could suck money out of the already fragile Northern economy.

Now a Downing Street spokesman has suggested that support for regional pay appeared to be cooling within the Government.

"Unless there's strong evidence to support it and there is a rational case for it, then it won't change," said the spokesman.

Following those comments, a senior Lib Dem source also made clear that the party was far from convinced about moving to regional pay.

"The Government is looking at this and that process is ongoing, but the Liberal Democrats will have to see some very strong evidence before we are persuaded that there is a case for this," said the insider. Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon, said: "There is no justification for it.

"And if the Liberal Democrats really want to help workers in the public sector, they should tell their colleagues in the coalition to back off and to concentrate on things that really matter in the world."

Neil Foster, policy and campaigns officer at the Northern TUC, said: "It is encouraging that the coalition Government is beginning to think through the social and economic implications of regional pay. We welcome the greater focus on evidence because there is such a clear case against regional pay. …

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