Over 250,000 members of the public called for a bonus or tax break and fair pay for keyworkers.
A financial reward or tax break for keyworkers would not be “fair” on those facing job losses, says a Minister on behalf of Government.
Two petitions signed by over 250,000 members of the public calling for a bonus, tax break and fair pay for keyworkers in reward for their hard work during the pandemic triggered a debate on the topic in Westminister yesterday.
While the vast majority of MPs in attendance supported the call, the Government said it believes a targeted financial reward would be unfair on those facing job losses in private sector roles.
Figures suggest the most experienced frontline nurses are around £6144 per year worse off than ten years ago after years of public sector pay freezes.
Giving something back.
During the debate, Labour MP Kate Osbourne said that it would be poignant to “give something back” to those that kept “our people alive” and others that have kept essential services running since March.
“We cannot let this descend into an argument about levelling-down – there should be fair pay in both the private and public sector.
Ms Osbourne argued that fair pay in the public sector would benefit the private sector by proving a much-needed boost to the UK’s economy.
Navendu Mishra, the Labour MP and the representative for Stockport, even suggested that the Treasury could fund a reward for essential workers through “tackling tax avoidance” by big corporations like Amazon and cracking down on “offshore havens”.
Mr Mishra also urged workers to join a trade union to “provide them with protection and the dignity they deserve”.
Drawing the debate to a close a ministerial representative at the debate, Conservative MP Kemi Badenoch, responded; “many of those we have relied upon are in the private sector.”
“Fairness has been a guiding principle here, as the Chancellor pointed out in his statement on the spending review, in the six months to September private sector fell by nearly 1% compared to last year.”
“Workers in the private sector have lost jobs, been furloughed, seen their wages cut, and their hours reduced while those in the public sector have not.
“For that reason, the Chancellor announced a temporary pause to pay awards for some public sector workers.
Despite private sector pay rising significantly more than public sector pay over the past decade, Ms. Badenoch goes on to explain that pay restraint ensures “fairness” between the sectors and allows the government to target help to “those that need it most”.