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Scotland: 250,000 Public Sector Workers to be Hit with Wage Freeze by SNP in Budget
Source: dailyrecord.co.uk
Source Date: Monday, November 15, 2010
Country: Europe
Created: Nov 15, 2010

THE SNP government will this week order a one-year pay freeze for 250,000 public sector workers.

Finance secretary John Swinney will announce the hammer blow when he presents his Budget at Holyrood on Wednesday. The Scottish government have £1.3billion less cash next financial year as a result of Con-Dem cuts.

The wage freeze - which will apply to all workers in the devolved public sector earning more than £21,000 - will save £300million.

Swinney, who claimed it would protect 10,000 jobs, will try to soften the blow by announcing a council tax freeze for next year.

But local authorites have said government cash offered in return for pegging bills is not enough to protect have said government cash offered in return for pegging bills is not enough to protect services. A number - led by Glasgow - have hinted they may reject the plan.

Swinney said the announcement was "the most challenging budget in the history of devolution".

He added: "No one is under any illusions about the scale of the cuts which are being imposed on us by the UK Government.

"Hard choices will need to be made - but it can be easier for all who live here and cohesion maintained with in our communities by developing a 'social contract' with the people of Scotland.

"Thanks to our partnership with local councils, that freeze has now been del ivered for three years running - and has brought much-needed relief to households in every part of the country.

"If that help with household bills was a welcome boost in better times, it has become absolutely essential in the current economic climate."

As part of his "social contract" he will also end prescription charges and keep free care for the elderly.

Restraint

Government sources said public sector staff earning over £21,000 who the freeze would apply to made up about half the 500,000 total.

The Scots Tories yesterday backed the plan. Labour also accepted the need for pay restraint - but they said the council tax freeze would "rob funds from vital services".

And they accused the Nats of producing a one-year "elect ion budget" ahead of next May's poll that ducked tough spending decisions. Finance spokesman Andy Kerr said: "Swinney's talk of a social contract is nothing more than a smokescreen for cuts that will hit children and pensioners hardest.

"He is also creating uncertainty throughout the public sector by refusing to set a three-year budget.

"Ministers have been told how much money they have for the next three years, so they should give local councils, schools and the NHS the same information."

The row erupted as Lib Dem Scots Secretary Michael Moore confirmed plans to make Holyrood responsible for setting a portion of income tax.

The move will see MSPs dutybound to raise about 35 per cent of taxation in Scotland, up from 15 per cent now.

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