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Pay thaw! Theresa May lifts 1% public sector cap

Prime Minister Theresa May watches a game of street cricket on Downing Street, London, organised by Chance to Shine Street, which looks to engage young people aged 8-24 in areas of socio-economic disadvantage in street cricket. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 12, 2017. See PA story CHARITY Cricket. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

THE one per cent cap on public sector pay increases has been scrapped after seven years of wage stagnation for nurses, teachers and police officers.

A 1.7 per cent rise for prison officers and a package worth two per cent for police was announced yesterday. And asked if it spelled the end for the cap across the public sector, a government spokesman said: ‘Yes.’

The sign that Theresa May has relaxed the purse strings came after rises in inflation and a strike threat from unions who want a five per cent increase. But critics were cautious, with pay deals for workers including teachers and nurses yet to be agreed.

The Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive Janet Davies said she wanted to see ‘concrete proof’ that the cap would be lifted. The government’s ‘vague signal’ would not reassure nurses after real-terms wage cuts of 14 per cent since 2010, she said.

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) said Mrs May was playing ‘divide and rule’ by giving some workers rises while others had to wait.

The Labour leader, who was about to address the TUC conference when the announcement was made, said: ‘The Labour Party totally rejects the Tories’ attempt to play one sector off against another.

‘A Labour government will end the public sector pay cap and give all workers the pay rise they deserve and so desperately need.’

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady branded the increases for police and prison officers ‘pathetic’ — as latest figures showed inflation running at 2.9 per cent.

‘If ministers think a derisory rise like this will deal with the staffing crisis in our public services, they are sorely mistaken,’ she said.

The POA prison officers’ union said it would ballot its members on taking industrial action because the 1.7 per cent pay offer amounted to a cut.