Pay freeze: are we all in this together, South Wales Police Federation chair asks?

The Government has once again demonstrated that workers in the public sector will be expected to bear the brunt of measures to reduce spending, says the chair of South Wales Police Federation.

Steve Treharne was commenting on today’s Spending Review announcement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak in which it was confirmed that public sector workers, including most police officers, will face a pay freeze as the Government tries to deal with the economic fall-out of the pandemic.

“We recognise the extremely positive news for doctors and nurses and also recognise the incredible work they have undertaken in incredibly challenging times. However, this equally applies to our brave and hard-working police officers. In doing their duty to protect the public and maintain law and order during this difficult time, they have been regularly assaulted, and we have seen assaults increase by 20%, this is simply unacceptable. Our officers have been spat at and told that they will be infected by Covid, with all the worry that goes with that, not only for themselves but their families as well. The very officers who have done all they can and more, feel that they have been well and truly kicked at a time when they have done their utmost to preserve public safety.”

“During the austerity measures introduced from 2010, police officers’ pay fell by at least 14 per cent in real terms,” says Steve, “But despite the Government repeatedly saying ‘we are all in this together’, MPs received a two per cent pay increase in real terms over the same period.”

“That didn’t sit well with police officers then and it will not sit right now if we find further down the line that MPs are getting a pay rise. As it is, this pay freeze will be a smack in the face for all public sector workers who have been in the forefront of the nation’s response to the pandemic, putting their health at risk and also fearing taking the virus back to their own homes and their loved ones.”

The Federation’s national chair, John Apter, has called the pay freeze a ‘kick in the teeth for police officers’.

“This year my colleagues have been on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19, protecting the public and putting their safety and the safety of their families at risk. Despite the warm words and the weekly applause for key workers, it seems to count for nothing,” he said.

“We are realists; we know that the country is facing a difficult economic future. But rewarding those who have played a vital role in the fight against the virus with a pay freeze is nothing short of a disgrace.

“A handful of officers will get the additional £250 for the lowest-paid workers, but only those who are already on an appallingly low starting salary for the dangerous job they do.

“I appreciate the devil will be in the detail, but the headlines from today’s announcement does nothing to show appreciation to police officers and other public sector workers who have kept the wheels turning during 2020.”