Published: 09:45, 13 September 2017
Public sector pay cannot go up if it means taxes do too, according to a Kent MP.
Dartford's Gareth Johnson has said that while everyone wants to see the likes of nurses and teachers receive better salaries, the government remains under pressure to ensure the country lives within its means.
It comes ahead of a parliamentary debate today on a Labour motion to scrap the 1% pay cap, which has been in place since 2010.
"We all want to see key workers receive better pay and there is now a good argument for lifting the cap on pay to give people the recognition they deserve," said Mr Johnson.
"Many nurses receive a 3.8% increase in their annual increments on top of their 1% basic increase. There is though understandable pressure for the government to give pay rises where we can.
"It's also the case that people want us to live within our means and to tackle the deficit we inherited so there will always be a balance to be struck.
"There is no point in putting up public sector pay if we have to increase taxes to pay for it so increases have to be affordable."
The government has already announced a 1% rise and 1% bonus for police officers and a 1.7% rise for prison officers, both funded by existing budgets, with the prospect of "more flexibility" on increases for other sectors from April 2018.
Mr Johnson was responding to comments from his general election Labour opponent Dr Bachchu Kaini, who is concerned about NHS staffing in the Dartford area.
"Under the Conservatives, more people are leaving nursing than joining," he said.
"There is a shortage of 40,000 nurses in the UK and our own local CCG here in Dartford is experiencing challenges recruiting registered nurses.
"Registered nurse numbers are down for the first time since 2008 and the situation is going to be made worse as nursing applications are also down 23% in 2017 since the government scraped bursaries for student nurses and replaced them with loans."
Labour has also pledged to reinstate bursaries for student nurses and to put £6bn a year into the NHS should it get into government.
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