Executive Leader Cllr Kieran Quinn

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Councillor Kieran Quinn

Archive for July 2017

Don't Let the Bad News Get Buried

Friday, 28 July 2017

As Parliament goes on holiday for the summer, I want to reflect on an unpleasant tradition called “Taking out the Trash Day”. No, this isn’t a blog announcing a new recycling policy or anything like that. The final day before the Parliamentary recess, “Taking out the Trash Day” has earnt its infamous nickname because it is the day when governments will release embarrassing or awkward information or documents in the hopes that they will avoid the usual scrutiny. 

It should be noted, in the interests of fairness, that no party is entirely innocent of this practice. However in the past few years successive Conservative governments have turned the practice of using the last day of Parliament to bury bad news into an art form. Last summers’ Taking out the Trash Day included the Schools’ Funding Formula being delayed for a year, the number of criminal offences and motoring charges avoided by foreign diplomats, patient data being sent to the wrong GPs and Whitehall’s performance in answering (or not) MPs letters on time. This year’s crop has gone one better.

Many of the 22 written statements and dozens of Whitehall reports released last Thursday will have a direct effect on Tameside. Perhaps the most significant is confirmation that police officer numbers in England and Wales had fallen by 0.7% at the end of March this year. That doesn’t sound like much, but it means that the number of police officers on our streets is the lowest number at the end of a financial year since comparable records began in 1996. Police cuts and their ability to keep the public safe as a result of them was an important argument during the General Election campaign. Attempting to bury information that will inform that debate in the years in come is the height of irresponsibility, especially since the last three years of figures show a sustained and accelerating rise in crime of 3% in 2015, 8% in 2016 and 10% in 2017.

The other big one is the decision to scrap the electrification of several train lines. At the moment the confirmed cancellations are the routes between Cardiff and Swansea, between Kettering, Nottingham and Sheffield, and between Windermere and Oxenholme. Those by themselves were bad enough, but as I wrote earlier in the week, we’ve heard disturbing rumours that the electrification of the Manchester-Leeds route will be downgraded or killed off entirely. If the rumours are true, and I sincerely hope that they aren’t, then it will be a slap in the face for not only Manchester, but the entire North of England. Just about every expert on the subject agrees that cutting the travel times between two of the North’s great cities is essential to boosting prosperity and economic growth across the entire region. The way the government has treated the electrification scheme; first announcing it, then pausing it, then re-announcing it, and now either gutting it or cancelling it totally, tells you everything you need to know about their commitment to anything north of the Watford Gap.

There’s a few more as well, such as reports into human rights concerns in foreign countries and the state of school Maths education, but I think I’ve made my point clear. While in times past burying bad news in this manner would have probably worked, the rise of the internet and social media means that there are essentially an unlimited number of people working to uncover the awkward facts that governments would rather they didn’t see. Let’s keep doing that work. We may not, outside of another election, be able to stop this government making decisions that hurt our economy and communities. Yet we can, and will we, sure that they are always held to account for their actions, no matter how they try to hide them.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Recognising our Heroes at Full Council

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Yesterday evening we held the summer meeting of Full Council, including the Mayor-making ceremony that was postponed by the horrific attack on our city back in May. The highlight of the meeting was undoubtedly the awarding of the title of Freeman of the Borough to World Cup winning hero Geoff Hurst. Although he’s mostly remembered for his footballing exploits down South, he was actually born in Ashton-under-Lyne and lived in Tameside for six years until moving to Essex. The award marked the climax of a day long homecoming, during which he opened a new antenatal clinic in Tameside Hospital and put the fans through their paces at Hyde United. For his services to football and to charity, I was delighted to present him with his new title on behalf of the whole of Tameside.

No less significant from a local perspective was the awarding of the title of Honorary Alderman to Alan Whitehead and Mike Ballagher, two former councillors who served Tameside and the wards of Ashton Hurst and Dukinfield/Stalybridge respectively with distinction for many years. This award is not one that we give out lightly or indiscriminately, since the formation of the modern borough of Tameside in the 1970s it has been granted to only four individuals. As well as serving as councillors and Mayors, our two new Alderman lent their skills to a variety of other areas for the benefit of their local communities, most notably heritage and transport. A third former councillor, Margaret Downs, was unable to be present at the meeting but will be awarded the title of Alderwoman at a later date. Together, the three can boast of 71 combined years of service to Tameside on the local, regional and national stage. We owe them a great deal, and these awards hopefully go partway towards repaying that debt.

I also used the opportunity to take stock of everything that has happened locally and nationally since the previous meeting of Full Council. Regular readers of my blog will find most of the topics familiar, but I particularly focused on the election, the (hopefully) final discrediting of austerity and the current vacuum that passes for national leadership. Let me be clear, I think that the next few years will be among some of the most important we have faced as a country for a generation, and local government’s voice must be heard as we begin to do what needs to be done. Not as a voice in the spectator’s gallery, but as an active shaper of the future.

A motion was also passed expressing Tameside’s support for a better deal for the public sector and our public sector workers, including; an end to public sector pay cuts (for that is what they are in real terms), proper funding for public services, restoration of independence for the Pay Review Bodies and a real Living Wage of at least £10 an hour. The moral case is unquestionable and the economic argument is sound as well. Workers, both public and private, that are paid enough to stand on their own two feet are workers that are not forced to turn to tax credits, housing benefit or other means of topping up their income. In support of the motion, many councillors recalled their own personal experiences of public sector workers selflessly going above and beyond what was required of them. The message is clear; Tameside Council values the work of all public servants, our teachers, firefighters, police officers, nurses and council workers. We think the government should value them too.

All in all, a productive and important meeting, that laid out clearly where we stand and where we hope to go. I hope to carry that same spirit and purpose into the rest of the year ahead.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Northern Powerhouse: Hitting the buffers

Monday, 24 July 2017

Another week and with it another example of the Government backtracking on its’ previous commitments to the north of England.

I’ve written previously about my scepticism over whether the new Government remains truly committed to the “Northern Powerhouse” initiative launched by a previous administration. Whilst for a long time they had attempted to keep up appearances, particularly during the run up to last month’s election, it seems that they have now abandoned all pretences and are quite open about their disregard for our region.

The final straw was last Friday’s indication that the electrification of the Manchester to Leeds railway line may now not take place. The controversial “pausing” of the scheme back in 2015 was a warning shot though I, and many of my colleagues from across the region, breathed a sigh of relief when the programme was resumed; even if it was with a completion date pushed back some years.

The route from Manchester to Leeds is one of the busiest stretches of railway in the Country. Electrification of the line would shave 14 minutes off the journey time and enable train operators to significantly increase capacity in order to end the sardine tin-like conditions at peak periods. It was described as a “vital” element of the (fast decreasing) £38billion investment in the rail network in the North just 6 weeks ago and enabling works, such as those already undertaken in Ashton, have taken place across the region already.

The justification for this latest U-turn is that technology exists today that we didn’t know about when the plans were drawn up 5 or 6 years ago. Reference is made to bi-mode trains – trains that can switch between diesel and electric – though the main reason that electric trains are faster is that they don’t need to carry heavy diesel engines or fuel; bi-mode trains would still have all of this extra weight and so I fail to see how they would deliver the same benefits. Clearly you can see that I don’t buy the bi-mode argument.

Perhaps the true reason for this change of heart is revealed in Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s comments that it is “too difficult” to run electric pylons along the whole line. For “too difficult” read “too expensive”. Whilst this may have been a sound argument if you were to believe that the country had no money, it doesn’t wash when per head of population the North West receives £680 of investment in transport infrastructure while London receives £1940. Indeed, as I mentioned earlier the cost of the total package of investment in Northern Rail infrastructure is £38billion while Crossrail alone in London is £30billion. Add to that the fact that we weren’t so strapped for cash when the government needed to buy itself 10 votes from Northern Ireland for £1billion.

Once again the government in Westminster has demonstrated that the much vaunted plans to “rebalance the economy” and ensure that the North gets a fair crack of the whip are just empty words. In order to reset the imbalance between the North and South there need to be people in London who will put their money where their mouths are. Unfortunately, in the present government, I don’t think that such people exist.

Hopefully change won’t be far around the corner.

***UPDATE*** I was pleased to receive a message from Arriva Rail North after the publishing of my blog about the improvements to Ashton railway station. In the blog I was critical of the continued operation of the much hated “pacer” trains on our local commuter services. Arriva got in touch to explain that as part of the new franchise they will be decommissioning these units and refurbish the rest of the fleet. Clearly this is something I welcome, though questions still remain about why these trains have been allowed to continue to operate for so long when they were intended as a temporary measure 30 years ago. For now I’ll take this as a positive result in a period of uncertainty for our railways.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

What's on in Tameside this summer?

Friday, 21 July 2017

For many of our secondary school pupils today is the final day of the school year (apologies to those in primary school, you’ve got another week to go!). The excitement of the summer holidays is finally here and along with it the opportunity to get out and enjoy the summer sun for six whole weeks.

And it is getting out and making the most of the good weather this time of year that is so important. Whilst technology often keeps our young people occupied indoors it would be such a waste if an iPad or an Xbox were to curtail the enjoyment great outdoors.

It’s with this in mind that Public Health England has relaunched Change4Life for the summer. The long running initiative which encourages people to be more active and eat better has had a makeover and launched the “Shake Up your summer!” campaign.

Inspired by Disney characters the campaign promotes a series of “10 minute shake ups” with a different one being loaded on to the website or app each week. There are also details of how to get involved in other sports and activities.

Locally in Tameside there is plenty on offer. From the 5k timed runs in Stamford Park and Hyde Park; soft play and trampoline centre Total Adrenaline; indoor climbing and caving centre Sky High Adventure; the Tameside Run Together courses; our network of cycling routes or a visit to one of our country parks in Stalybridge, on Werneth Low or in Daisy Nook; there is enough to do something outdoors every single day of the summer break.

Though of course, in a city famed for its’ rain, to expect the weather to permit these activities every day during the holidays would be a little optimistic. That’s why Tameside Council and our partners have also laid on other things that families can get up to that don’t require sunshine.

Portland Basin Museum makes an excellent day out even when there isn’t something special on, though from last Saturday the “If You Go Down To The Woods Today” exhibition opened, showcasing hundreds of Teddy Bears and their special stories. The popular Open Art exhibition has also returned to Astley Cheetham Gallery, showcasing works by the borough’s amateur artists.

Full details of everything that is on throughout July can be found in the current What’s On guide and the August edition will be published very soon.

And so I’d like to finish this blog with a plea to our young people. Very few people are fortunate to get a full six weeks in a row off during the summer when they’ve started their working life. Make the most of the holidays while you can!

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

On Your Marks for the Pride of Tameside Sports Awards

Thursday, 20 July 2017

It’s that time of year again. The search is on to find Tameside’s top sports people, coaches, clubs and volunteers. Not just those who have achieved the most, but those who have made a real difference to sport in the borough. Those successfully nominated will get a chance to receive their due recognition at 2017’s Pride of Tameside Sports Awards, held on 22nd September at Dukinfield Town Hall.

Since they began 15 years ago the Awards have become one of the highlights of the Tameside calendar. From a small and informal event in Stalybridge in front of a few people, it’s grown to the point where we’ve brought in sporting legends like Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan and Olympic swimmer Mark Foster to host the festivities.  What hasn’t changed, however, are the quality and variety of the nominees and award winners. 

Last year’s triumphant entries ran the gamut from an 11 year old kickboxing Sports Achiever of the Year, to an Unsung Hero of the Year who has been involved with cycling in Tameside and Manchester for over 60 years. This year also sees the addition of two new award categories. The School Commitment to PE Award is open to all schools in Tameside who have gone the extra mile to get their pupils active through curricular activities and afterschool offers. The Believe and Achieve Award will be given by the Believe and Achieve Trust to one of the recipients of their bursaries, acknowledging a young person’s drive to excel in their chosen sport. All the awards from previous years will also be making a return, including Coach of the Year; Sports Achiever of the Year; Disabled Sports Achiever of the Year; Alex Williams Volunteer of the Year; Unsung Hero of the Year; Club of the Year and the Changing Lifestyle Special Recognition award.

I’ve always been a big supporter of the Pride of Tameside Sports Awards. Day in, day out in Tameside there are hundreds of people who pour their heart and soul into their chosen discipline, achieving remarkable things and helping others to achieve remarkable things. Not only do they make a huge contribution to their communities, but they also show how everybody can lead a healthy and active life with the right encouragement and support. It’s absolutely right that their efforts and commitment are recognised and rewarded.

What’s more, this year’s Pride of Tameside winners will go on to represent Tameside at the Greater Manchester Sports Awards, spreading our good name and work beyond the confines of the borough.

So if you know anybody that you think deserves a nomination for a Pride of Tameside Sports Award, let us know about them by Sunday 6th August 2017. Nomination forms and advice on how to fill them in can be found on Active Tameside’s website here: http://www.activetameside.com/pride-tameside-sport-awards-2/.

Let’s make sure that Tameside’s sporting heroes get the credit that their effort deserves. 

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

The Murky Future of Local Government Finance

Monday, 17 July 2017

A week, it has been said, is a long time in politics. Two months is even longer. Then, we were still listening to the government promising “strong and stable leadership” at every opportunity. Now, we’ve got Ministers anonymously complaining that “There is no plan, no strategy, no direction”.

I could use that phrase to score some party political points (and I probably will in the future), but it highlights a deeply concerning situation. A government that cannot get its own house in order is a government that cannot address the fundamental questions of the day. If some of those questions are seen as “unglamorous” or “difficult” then there’s even less chance of anything happening. Unfortunately, local government finance fits exactly into those categories.

Let’s be clear. As much as I’d love to join in with those saying that austerity’s days are numbered, it’s still having an impact on communities up and down the country. By 2020, local government in England is due to lose 75p out of every £1 of core central government funding that it had to spend in 2015. Almost half will receive no funding at all. The overall funding gap is estimated to reach £5.8 billion.

Prior to the election the big solution to this was supposed to be allowing councils to keep 100% of the business rates that they collected within their own area, as opposed to the current system where business rates are handed over to central government and redistributed via grants. I may have been sceptical about how the business rates retention would work in theory, especially in areas with a lower tax base or a higher demand for services, but at least it was a plan.

Since the election the silence has been near total. There was no mention at all of local government financing (or the many other issues facing councils) in the Queen’s Speech, and, while the rumour is that the entire project has been “effectively suspended” there has been no official word from the Department for Communities and Local Government either way. At the LGA Conference at the end of last month local government Minister Sajid Javid’s speech did not mention the words “finance” or “financing” once. At the moment, it is literally anybody’s guess as to where the money for councils is going to come from after the current local government efficiency plans run out in 2020.  

That means that local government has to plan out its future in incredibly difficult circumstances and without a full grasp of the context we’re working in. But plan we must, the challenges we face will not wait while Whitehall and Downing Street sort themselves out.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. I wrote recently how devolution is being used in Greater Manchester to take action on homelessness and opening up jobs and education to young people. If there is inaction from central government, then local government will together with a clear set of ideas about how to fill that gap. Let’s make sure that, when it comes to the big national issues like productivity, employment and public sector reform, we’re not bystanders but active shapers of the future.

The alternative is chaos and confusion. That isn’t good for the country, it isn’t good for local government and it isn’t good for our communities. 2020 will come sooner than we think, so let’s make the case to government and start demanding concrete, sustainable plans now.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Summer Reading Challenge

Friday, 14 July 2017

Crazy about crime fighting? Wild about wildlife? Well even if you’re not perhaps you know some little ones who might be.
Allow me to introduce this years’ summer reading challenge. The theme is “Animal Agents” and features a whole host of clever creatures, ready to solve all kinds of crimes! The band of furry, slippery and feathered characters are specially trained to use their skills and natural instincts to unravel mysteries.
The idea is simple. Over the summer holidays we are challenging children aged 4-11 to sign up to the Big Friendly Read and read six library books from their local library. Not only is it fun, it’s also absolutely free. Furthermore, every child who completes the challenge will be a proud recipient of a medal, wristband and certificate celebrating their achievement. Here in Tameside, any child who completes the Big Friendly Read before Saturday 23rd September will also be entered into a special prize draw for a chance to win an experience for up to 8 people at either the Sky High Adventure Centre, Total Adrenaline, Hyde Leisure Pool or iPlay Zone courtesy of Active Tameside.

If you want to join in the Big Friendly Read you can do so by signing up at any one of Tameside’s libraries. Last year over 2500 children took part, and this year we intend to go one better. To help anybody who joins along in the challenge, our libraries will be putting on a series of activities such as treasure hunts, crafts and games. As with everything else in the Big Friendly Read these events, details of which can be found on our website here, are free and there’s no need to pre-book.

But the Big Friendly Read is just one part of the larger programme of activities we’re putting on for children and families this summer. Our countryside teams and museums will also be getting in on the act with a variety of free and fun indoor and outdoor events.

So if you want to your children to have fun and learn this summer in Tameside have a look to see what activities suit you. From reading challenges to live plays, countryside walks to beekeeping, come and join us and get your next few months sorted.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

The Taylor Review: Asking the Right Questions, Delivering the Wrong Answers

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Picture this situation. Somebody steals something from you and, when you confront them over what they’ve done, they offer to give you half of it back. Surely you’re perfectly within your rights to demand the whole thing back from them? Yet when it comes to hard-won workers’ rights, we’re expected to receive less than was taken from us and be glad of it.

That’s the feeling I get while making my way through the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, the much-anticipated report into zero hour contracts, bogus self-employment and all the other ills that have blighted the British economy in recent years. I’ll be happy to give a more detailed breakdown of my views on it when I’ve had time to sit down with it in-depth. However, for the moment my first impressions are that of a missed opportunity.

Let’s talk first about what the Taylor Review hasn’t done. There’s no actionable plan to ban, or even severely curtail, the explosion in zero-hour contracts and other exploitative practices that have locked so many people out of permanent, full-time jobs. A “right to request” permanent or additional hours might sound good on paper, but without a solid legal framework to make sure both the letter and spirit of the measure is respected I fail to see what, if any, difference it will make. Hand in hand with this goes a lack of urgency on addressing workers being frozen out of employment tribunals due to high fees and other conditions. People from all sides of the political spectrum have shown how much of a barrier to justice these have been, and, while the report does acknowledge their unfairness, all it asks is that they are kept “under review”.

When we look at what the Taylor Review has done, the story doesn’t get much better. The review proposes a new employment classification of “dependant contractors”, effectively a middle ground between employed and self-employed. The idea is even floated that companies using such workers could be exempt from paying them the minimum wage in certain circumstances. This is an approach that I am very, very sceptical of. The unscrupulous companies that have driven the rise in bogus self-employment, of which the likes of Uber and Deliveroo are only the most prominent, have done so by forcing open a wholly artificial grey area between those who work for someone else and those who work for themselves. Giving this grey area legal sanction runs the risk of not only legitimising some of the worst excesses of the gig economy, but making it harder to crack down on other and further abuses in the future.

The real tragedy here is that the Review could have been so much more. Unfair working practices in the UK are largely a product of three separate but related issues; the imbalance in power between individuals and employers, the willingness of a minority of unscrupulous businesses to exploit this, and the reluctance of government to rebalance the scales through regulation and enforcement. The Taylor Review accepts wholeheartedly the first, appears to have a blind spot for the second and actively rejects the third. It says the right things and asks the right questions, but then pulls its punches on the tough but necessary answers.

That is unfortunate, not just for workers, but for the majority of businesses and employers who do play by the rules. Despite this, I remain optimistic. The Taylor Review might not be what was hoped for and needed, but it opens up space for demanding further and more radical action in the future. Let’s keep fighting the good fight, and make this the beginning of the end of the assault on workers’ rights in Britain.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Ashton station: All change!

Friday, 07 July 2017

If you read this blog often you’ll know that I’m passionate about seeing investment in our local infrastructure. That’s why, despite the short term inconvenience it will cause, I welcome the closure for upgrades this Saturday of the railway station in Ashton-under-Lyne. Scheduled to be shut for three weeks, the station is set to undergo major engineering works as part of the £1 billion Great North Rail Project.

The most significant element of the works due to take place is the rebuilding of the railway bridge over Turner Lane. Indeed, local people will have seen that Turner Lane under the station has been closed for some time already. The rebuilding of this bridge is to provide a bed for new, straighter, railway lines.

You would be forgiven for asking why we would go to the expense of rebuilding an entire bridge just to get a straighter railway line. The station has been open since 1846 and so what has changed? It’s certainly something I wondered about when I was first told of the closure.

Well here’s the technical bit. The railway corridor that Ashton sits within is very narrow and as such the track curves much more frequently than many other railway lines. The number of curves limits the speed at which trains can travel and ultimately the frequency at which it is possible to run trains on the line. With patronage on local rail services increasing and demand expected to continue rising, these improvements are essential to keep pace with the services that will be required on this line in the future.

Now make no mistake, this investment is welcome. But had it not been for the “pause” of the electrification works by Network Rail back in 2015 we would have been far further down the road than we are presently and been looking forward to improved railway services arriving much sooner.

We must also continue to press for the other improvements that are so badly needed to rail services in Ashton, Tameside and the wider region. I’m talking about replacement of the ancient “pacer” trains (buses on a train chassis built in the 80s when British Rail was being starved of cash). Whilst a straighter line may mean that passengers won’t have to endure as much screeching as the train negotiates fewer curves on the journey to Manchester, it won’t change the fact that they’re sat (or more likely stood) on a vehicle that should’ve been scrapped 20 years ago.

Then of course there is the question of when High Speed Rail will finally arrive in the North. The Northern Powerhouse (remember that?) did include the possibility of an east-west high speed rail link, though the silence on this matter has been deafening for some time. This is despite the influential think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, urging the government to prioritise an east-west link over the north-south HS2 link, in order to release the potential of the Northern economy.

And so, whilst there is much more required to bring our transport infrastructure up to the standard that we should be able to expect in the 21st century, the improvements taking place at Ashton this month are a welcome start. If you are a user of Ashton-under-Lyne railway station, details of the closure and alternative arrangements can be found here.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

Goodbye, and Good Riddance, to the Public Sector Pay Cap?

Tuesday, 04 July 2017

Frequent readers of my blog will know that the cost of living and defending the principle of “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work” in modern Britain are two issues that I take very seriously indeed. I’ve never claimed that solving them was going to be easy, but what if I told you that there’s one piece of the solution that could literally be made to happen tomorrow, and would have happened if not for the actions of the current government?

Since 2010 and the dawn of the age of the austerity various Conservative governments have imposed a cap of 1% on the annual increase of public sector pay. At a stroke, millions of workers up and down the country, not just civil servants but police officers, nurses and fire fighters as well, found their earning potential slashed at the whim of the Treasury. 

Fast forward seven years and the malignant effects of this cost-cutting have become apparent to pretty much everybody. The median public sector wage for almost 5 million people is now £1,000 lower in real terms than it was in 2010. By the end of this Parliament that cumulative loss of pay is expected to reach around £4,000. This means millions of public sector workers are faced with the choice of accepting a reduction in their own quality of life, or taking different or additional jobs to make up the shortfall. Many of these hard-working people are in some of the most dangerous and important jobs this country can offer, they deserve better than being forced to live hand-to-mouth like that.

There’s serious concern about the effects of the public sector pay gap from employers as well. When it was introduced, the argument was made that a cap in public sector pay was necessary because earnings for similar jobs in the private sector had plummeted during the Great Financial Crisis. Regardless of what you thought about that argument at the time, it’s demonstrably not true in 2017. Public and private sector earnings in real terms achieved parity last year, and that gap between the two sectors is now reversing at an increasing rate. If public sector workers can get better jobs with higher pay in the private sector, many are going to do exactly that. At best, that means a reliance on costly and inefficient agency labour to fill the gaps. At worst, that means degradation in the quality of our public services due to shortages in staff and skills. The police, the NHS and the teaching profession are already beginning to sound the alarm on exactly this.

With that kind of mounting evidence you’d think the government would be taking decisive action. You’d be disappointed. What was seen since the election is a toxic brew of shameless hypocrisy and utter confusion. You can’t claim there’s “no magic money tree” when you’re happy to spend at least a billion pounds to prop yourself up in Parliament.  You can’t claim you support lifting the public sector pay cap when you voted against an amendment in the Queen’s Speech that would have done just that. You absolutely can’t announce that the public sector pay cap will be lifted, only to go back on it less than 24 hours later. I’ve seen plenty of U-turns over the years, but a U-turn on a U-turn is a new one.

We need to bring some common sense back to public sector pay. We always have to take care that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely, but that has to be balanced with making sure that the public sector can retain the skills and staff necessary to deliver vital services, and, more importantly, that nobody on a public sector wage struggles to make ends meet. The age of austerity must be brought to an end. Not in a few years. Not in a few months. Right now.

Posted by: Kieran Quinn

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