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Public sector pay has gone up by just 1% since 2013 - the hard data that shows that is not true

Tom Winnifrith
Friday 7 July 2017

The debate about public sector pay is predicated on the myth that it has gone up by just 1% since 2013. The liberal media, the Labour party and indeed almost everybody just accepts this is a fact. But it is not true. It is fake news spun and reported by those who cannot be arsed to check their facts. If you actually bother to check the data from the Office of National Statistics you will see that it is a lie.

In 2013 the average wage for public sector employees was £26,933. That was above the overall national average wage showing that public sector workers actually earn more than private sector workers. By 2016 the ONS shows that number had increased to £27,974 - which works out at an average wage increase over three years of not 1% compounded but of 1.3% compounded. That is a striking difference is it not? It is a 30% differencce in the annual claimed increase.

So how has that happened? It is very simple. All public sector workers received a standard 1% increase per annum. But in vast swathes of the public sector - certainly across the NHS, schools and universities there are what are termed grade increases. You do the same job with the same title but move up a grade and so earn more.

These grade increases are not decided on you having achieved certain goals or delivered on certain targets as would be the case in the reviled private sector but simply are a recognition of years of service. In the real world of the private sector they would thus be described as a "pay increase" but in the make believe world of public sector finances they are described otherwise.

I have written before about how when you hear public sector workers bleating on about how they have to go to food banks, have had no pay increases or earn less than the private sector they are telling straight lies. But now the hard data from the ONS shows the biggest lie of all. Public sector pay has not been increasing by 1% a year but by 1.3% per annum since 2013 - it has been going up in absolute terms by far more than its claimed..

Of course there is nothing wrong with that. The economy is growing and that means that private sector pay is going up by more. But public sector workers should remember the dark days of 2008-2010 when the economy was in crisis. At that point average private sector pay actually fell while in the public sector it carried on rising in both real and in absolute terms. In bad times the public sector wins and in good wins as well. In the private sector it is very much a case of the years of the lean calves and the fat calves. Indeed if the calves get too lean there is no calf. In the public sector a recession does not bring the risk of job losses as it does for we evil capitalists.

Next time you hear the BBC, Channel 4 Fake News or the rest of the liberal media banging on about this wicked 1% pay cap please remember it is just not true and if they could be bothered to check their facts or had a desire to report non fake news they would be behaving otherwise. They should also put the pay rises of 2013 onwards in the context of what happened in 2008-10 and remember that public sector workers simply do not earn less than those of us in the accursed private sector. They earn more, get better pensions - paid for by the grateful taxpayer - have, on average, more sick days and get longer holidays.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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