Thomas Bridge 29 October 2012

Academics condemn regional pay proposals

Regional pay proposals would heighten geographical inequalities and cause nationwide economic damage, leading academics have warned.

In a letter published in The Times, 60 academics have warned that government plans to end national pay bargaining would reduce consumer spending power and undermine businesses in less prosperous areas of the UK.

In the letter, the academics state there is ‘no convincing evidence’ to support chancellor George Osborne’s claims that regionally determined pay would boost the economic performance of local economies.

Such a policy could ‘aggravate geographical economic and social inequalities, the letter claims.

Calling on the Government to instead reinforce provincial growth, the letter urges ministers to avoid policies which would ‘undermine regional economic and social development’.

The signatories include professor of politics at Northumbria University Keith Shaw, John Tomaney professor of urban and regional planning at University College London, and Richard Hyman, professor emeritus in industrial relations at the London School of Economics.

Shaw said: ‘This proposal will depress public sector pay in regions outside of London and the South East and, in areas such as the North East, could lead to a spiral of decline that would serve to further widen the ever-growing north-south divide.’

Tomaney added: ‘I have serious concerns that the full impact of what has been discussed in terms of regional or local public sector pay has not been appreciated by the Government. Reducing wages and spending power in the poorest regions can only widen divisions and harm any economic recovery.’

Responding to the letter, Trade Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘This is yet more evidence that the Government’s plans for regional or local pay are not just unfair, but ill-thought out. The chancellor should take the views of these many academic experts seriously and put a stop for once and for all to these flawed and counterproductive proposals.’

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