Liz Truss opposes public sector pay cut in just 12 hours

Conservative leadership candidate Liz Truss has ditched plans to cut wages for public sector workers outside London and the South East after a massive response from Tory MPs against the policy.

Critics within her own party accused the foreign minister of plans to make millions of nurses, police officers and teachers poorer.

Tees Valley Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen, who supports Mrs Truss’ opponent Rishi Sunak, said he was “basically speechless” at her pitch against party members who were electing the next prime minister.

The proposal was a “ticking time bomb” that threatened to cost the party the next general election, he said.

Matt Hancock, the former health minister, also referred to Theresa May’s general election campaign when the former prime minister infamously rolled back her social care proposals – dubbed the ‘dementia tax’.

“What if this kind of fundamental mistake was made during an election campaign? 2017 all over again,” he said. “Bad judgement, lack of detail and a gift to Labour. I hope we see a full u-tun and this policy is abandoned.”

The turnaround, barely 12 hours after she announced the plans, is a blow to Ms Truss, who is widely seen as the frontrunner to replace Boris Johnson.

The policy, requiring regional pay boards to match wages with local living costs, had been announced as part of plans for a “war on Whitehall’s waste” that would save the Treasury billions of pounds.

But within hours, Mrs Truss was met with a furious reaction from Tory MPs from various parts of England.

Richard Holden, a member of the 2019 Tory MPs influx and another Sunak supporter, said Ms Truss should immediately scrap plans that he claimed would “kill” the government’s leveling agenda.

Steve Double – a Tory MP and Sunak supporter – added: “This is a terrible idea and would be hugely damaging to public services in Cornwall. This is a leveling down, not up.”

Mrs. Truss later claimed that her proposals had been misinterpreted. She said: “I never intended to change the terms of teachers and nurses. But what I want to be clear about is that I’m not going to continue with the regional pay boards.”

However, the announcement of the Truss campaign made it clear that the proposed savings would only be achieved if the policy was applied to all public sector wages. The proposals had provoked an angry reaction from unions. Prospect’s general secretary Mike Clancy accused Ms. Truss of planning “more of the same economically illiterate and abusive ideological nonsense that this administration has spawned in recent years”.

Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA union, which represents senior officials, said: “As the government faces the huge challenges of another war in mainland Europe and recovering from Covid backlogs, we have a prime minister solutions needed. for the 21st century, unrepurposed failed policies and tired rhetoric from the 1980s.”

TUC Secretary-General Frances O’Grady welcomed the turnaround, saying that “in the midst of a cost of living crisis, the number one priority for our next prime minister must be to raise wages”.

Labor also said the idea would sound the death knell for the government’s ‘levelling’ agenda, instead widening the regional income gap and creating a race to the bottom on public sector wages.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a supporter of Truss, told Sky News that the discussion around the policy was aimed at civil servants and that it was “not currently the plan” to cut wages for the rest of the public sector.

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