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Tories warn 2% pay offer could lead to job cuts

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Conservative council leaders have warned that the 2% pay offer to most staff could force further cuts to jobs and services.

Tory members of negotiating body National Employers voted against breaking the current 1% pay cap but the 2% offer backed by Labour and an independent was approved by the casting vote of the chair, Luton BC deputy leader Sian Timoney (Lab).

Speaking at a meeting of the Local Government Association’s executive yesterday, Conservative group leader David Simmonds suggested the Conservatives may have supported a pay offer above 1% if funding was guaranteed.

He added: “Councils have been budgeted to fund 1%. While we have been sympathetic to a high pay reward in the context of inflation and so on, the spine raises expectation and there is no expectation that resources will be forthcoming.

“The concern we have is that is there going to be job cuts and cuts to services to fund that, or is the government going to come over the hill in the finance settlement and fund the 2%? It is pretty clear that is vanishingly unlikely.”

A total of 92 Labour council leaders have written to chancellor Philip Hammond to call for a 2% pay rise in each of the next two years to be fully funded.

However, LGA executive member and Sevenoaks DC leader Peter Fleming (Con) insisted the government would reject the request.

He said: “We made a choice to pay 2%. Can we now go back to government and say, ‘can you pay for that decision?’.

“They will say ’you had a choice, you have made that decision and you will have to pay for the decision you made.”

The 2% pay offer, made on Tuesday, is now being considered by trade unions which requested a 5% pay rise earlier this year. An initial response is expected within the next two weeks.

Labour sources have told LGC they are optimistic that the offer will be accepted.

A circular issued by National Employers following the vote said unions had “made clear in private conversations that in the current climate it would not be possible for them to agree any offer that included 1.0% as the headline rate”.

The LGA said the 2% offer, which does not apply to council chief executives or senior officers, will result in an increase to the national pay bill of 5.6% over two years.

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