Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Council backs Lib Dem motion opposing regional pay

This afternoon, Cornwall Council backed a Lib Dem motion opposing any move towards regional pay or regional benefit levels - both of which would hit Cornwall very hard. As far as I could see there were no councillors who voted against and only three who abstained. Sadly, one of these was the Cabinet Member for Finance.

My colleague Edwina Hannaford and I put forward the motion because of the noises that Chancellor George Osborne has made about local or regional pay deals.

As Cllr Andrew Wallis said, "Regional pay is not about fair pay, it is about cutting pay." If we had regional pay based on relative housing prices, on water charges, on public transport or leisure prices then the levels of pay would surely rise not fall. But we know that this isn't the case and that the only effect would be to drive down pay levels.

At present, Cornwall has many excellent public sector staff. But how many would still be here if they could be paid more in Hampshire or Essex for doing the same job? A regional pay system would take tens of millions of pounds out of Cornwall's economy and lead a downward spiral of pay as the public sector levels help to keep private sector pay up too.

Since the motion was submitted three weeks ago, Nick Clegg has made it clear that the Lib Dems won't back regional pay and David Cameron's proposed announcement of regional benefit levels never occurred after Lib Dems in Government said they would not back it.

Cornwall doesn't want second class services and local residents deserve to keep the first class public sector workers we have.

The debate also allowed council leader Alec Robertson to clarify a comment he made in a public meeting in Launceston a few months ago. Asked about local pay deals, Cllr Robertson said that he was "generally in favour of anything with the word local in it". Today Cllr Robertson made it clear that he would not support a move towards lower pay levels and he backed our motion.

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