Rishi Sunak says 'people may not like' his decisions' but they will be 'right and responsible'

26 June 2023, 13:58 | Updated: 26 June 2023, 14:37

Rishi Sunak says he will take the "right and responsible" decisions despite mounting anger over public sector pay
Rishi Sunak says he will take the "right and responsible" decisions despite mounting anger over public sector pay. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Rishi Sunak has hinted he will ignore recommendations for public sector pay rises, saying workers "need to recognise the economic context we are in".

Speaking amid a continuing row over public sector pay, Mr Sunak said: "It is important that we don't make the inflation situation worse and it is important we prioritise the things that are right.

"I am making the decisions that are right for the long term and that is what I am going to continue doing."

Over the weekend it was reported that the prime minister planned to block upcoming proposals from public sector pay bodies to try and tackle inflation.

Unions and opposition parties have hit out at the rumoured decision, saying inflation was not being driven by the wages of nurses and teachers, but by the economic decisions taken by the Conservatives over their 13 years in power.

Pay review bodies recommendations are expected to be published next month, alongside formal pay offers, with reports claiming they could be around 6% for the health service and 6.5% for teachers.

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, and Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay visit a mobile lung health check unit in Nottingham
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, and Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay visit a mobile lung health check unit in Nottingham. Picture: Alamy

Read More: 'I got angry. I wanted new ideas': Ben Elton defends describing Rishi Sunak as a 'narcissistic sociopath'

Read More: 'There is no short cut' Rishi Sunak backs jumbo interest rate hike to 5 per cent in desperate bid to control inflation

Today, when asked if public sector pay was a major driver of that inflation, Mr Sunak said: "Government borrowing is something that would make inflation worse, so the government has to make priorities and decisions about where best to target our resources.

"And that's why when it comes to public sector pay, we need to be fair, but we need to be responsible as well."

Next month junior doctors are set to take part in a five-day strike over pay and conditions.

Calling for pay restoration equating to a 35% rise, the British Medical Association (BMA) said wages had decreased by more than a quarter since 2008 when inflation was taken into account, and many doctors were burnt out from an increasing workload.

Mr Sunak said: "I think everyone can see the economic context we are in, with inflation higher than we'd like it, and it is important in that context that the government makes the right and responsible decisions in things like public sector pay.

"It is very disappointing that junior doctors have taken the decision that they have done. Over half a million people's treatments have already been disrupted and I don't think anyone wants to see that carry on - it's just going to make it harder to bring waiting lists down."

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