FIVE million public sector workers could have their wages frozen to help pay for the Covid pandemic.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to announce the squeeze on public sector wages as the financial toll of tackling the virus takes hold.
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It's understood the Chancellor thinks it is "unfair" they should get inflation busting pay rises while private sector workers face stagnant wage growth and redundancies.
But frontline NHS workers battling the deadly bug won't be included in the freeze – which could save the Treasury £23billion by 2023.
But the decision could spark fury with unions and workers after eight years of frozen wages came to an end in 2018.
In a letter to ministers back in July, the Chancellor said: "For reasons of fairness, we must exercise restraint in future public sector pay awards, ensuring that public sector pay levels retain parity with the private sector.
'THE PAIN HAS NOT BEEN SHARED'
"Departments' pay modelling should reflect this fairness."
The Centre for Policy Studies said as much as £11.7billion could be saved if the public sector pay increase was limited to one per cent.
Robert Colvile, Director of the thinktank said: “The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been severe, but the pain has not been shared equally.
"Some businesses are folding under the strain, public finances have been decimated, while the public sector has escaped relatively unscathed.
“Healthcare workers aside, it is difficult to justify generous pay rises in the public sector when private sector wages are actually falling.
"At the same time, there is a need to control public spending and reduce the structural deficit which the pandemic is likely to have opened up.
“The Chancellor should redress this imbalance by showing restraint when it comes to pay and pensions in the public sector.”
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