As a member of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation I’ve spoken out against suggested plans to scrap national pay rates for some public sector workers in the UK.
The North needs good quality, well-rewarded jobs to put spending power back into the economy. The Chancellor’s suggestion will result in continuing stagnation and further decline of the North.
The move would mean local factors, such as the cost of living and private sector pay rates, would be taken into account for public sector workers and could lead to them being paid less in the North of England for doing the same jobs as their colleagues in the South-East.
The Foundation’s General Secretary, Professor Paul Salveson MBE has said: “This is one sort of regionalism the North needs like a hole in the head.
“It’s exactly the wrong solution to kick-starting the North’s faltering economies.”
Paul’s views were echoed by the Foundation’s chair, Barry Winter, who said: “It’s risible that private employers are struggling to recruit in the North because of high public sector pay rates.
“Anyone north of the Trent knows that job vacancies in the North are becoming an endangered species, with scores of highly qualified applicants for each reasonably paid job which comes up. Osborne’s proposal will do nothing to help the labour market and will simply make a bad situation even worse as demand falls even further and more firms go out of business.”
The Hannah Mitchell Foundation is building up a case for strong devolved government for The North which can learn from the successes of devolution in Scotland and Wales.
“Devolution has brought a strategic focus to the economies of Scotland and Wales”, said Paul Salveson, “with major infrastructure projects such as railway re-openings and investment in knowledge industries. The North – the cradle of the industrial revolution – has the skills and expertise to become a leading economic force once again, but only if it has the political power, backed up by a command of its own resources, to be bold and innovative.”
The Foundation is consulting on ideas for appropriate forms of regional governance, either covering the entire North of England or its three constituent regions – the North-East, Yorkshire and the Humber and North West.
“Things have changed since the failed referendum on regional government for the North-east in 2004,” said Barry Winter. “On the one hand we have seen the success of devolution in Scotland, Wales as well as for Northern Ireland and even London, whilst we’re seeing rocketing unemployment, business failures and stagnation in the property market in the North – at the same time as growth across much of the South-East. The case for strong, well-resourced regional government for the North is getting stronger by the day and this proposal only strengthens it.”