As you may now be aware, our current Lib Dem MP in North Cornwall has been putting out leaflets and letters claiming that he and his party have blocked 'unfair Conservative Plans' to introduce regional pay for nurses and other public sector workers.
These proposals were first raised in 2012, and would have seen local public sector pay linked to regional private sector pay. I have thought long and hard about whether or not I should respond to these inaccurate claims, but I believe that the people of North Cornwall deserve to know the facts.
Currently public sector pay is set centrally, but the proposed change would have given an unfair disadvantage to public sector workers in lower pay areas such as North Cornwall. It was the last Labour Government who introduced regional pay into our Court system and the reforms proposed in 2012 were an extension of this policy.
The reasoning behind such a policy has two main objectives: firstly, linking the two pay scales would help the private sector to be more competitive. Secondly, a lower average wage would allow for the creation of more public sector jobs for the same total wage bill.
This is not a fair proposal, it is a backward thinking policy that would unfairly penalise many hard working people in North Cornwall. A more sensible approach would be to address the underlying issues, to raise private sector wages in order to close the pay gap. I feel very strongly about this issue, and it would be one of my top priorities if I am elected as your MP next May.
Conservative MPs in Cornwall have confirmed that it was in fact Conservatives in Government who persuaded Her Majesty’s Treasury, where these proposals started, that these proposals were unacceptable in areas like North Cornwall, and as a result the proposals were dropped.
Contrary to the claim by our Lib Dem MP that this is just a Conservative policy, it was just as much a policy keenly promoted by senior Liberal Democrats. These included the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, our MP's Lib Dem colleague, who championed the regional pay proposals in 2012 as demonstrated here:
North Cornwall has suffered long enough under the ineffective political representation of the Liberal Democrats. We have watched our towns decline and many good jobs disappear. I believe that our MP should be focussed on growing our local economy and working to raise local wages rather than trying to score political points at every opportunity.
This is yet another instance of our Lib Dem MP taking all the credit for his party whenever it suits his own anti-Tory agenda. This is desperate scaremongering by the Liberal Democrats and it is really disappointing to see them using our hard-working nurses and teachers to play politics in this way. We are not, and absolutely will not be introducing regional pay.
It is the Conservatives in Government that have taken over three million of the lowest paid people out of tax altogether, protected spending on schools, increased spending on the NHS, and who have a long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain.