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Downing Street cautious on reported pay rises for police and prison officers

Ministers are expected to accept recommendations for higher pay rises this week.

Police and prison officers are reportedly in line for a wage boost with the Government set to lift the 1% cap on public sector pay rises for both sectors.

Ministers are expected to accept recommendations for higher pay rises this week, paving the way for similar increases for other public sector workers, according to reports.

The pay review body recommendations for police and prison officers for 2017/18 are still to be published and are awaiting a Government response, which Theresa May has said will happen “shortly”.

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(Peter Macdiarmid/PA)

A move to lift the cap will come after weeks of pressure on the Prime Minister and Chancellor Philip Hammond to give public sector workers a pay rise from Labour, unions and some Tories.

A Downing Street source has described the reports as “speculation”.

But shadow police minister Louise Haigh immediately insisted that new money must be provided for pay rises so pressure is not put on already “overstretched” forces.

It comes after former top Treasury official Lord Macpherson of Earl’s Court said tax hikes or spending cuts would be needed to pay for a lifting of the cap or the deficit would be left unacceptably high.

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(Joe Giddens/PA)

Labour analysis of official data and forecasts showed that rank-and-file police officers are more than £6,000 a year worse off in real terms compared to 2010 when the Conservatives came to power.

The party’s research showed that officers across sergeant and constable ranks will have a projected mean annual salary of £40,512 this year, but if wages had risen in line with inflation since 2010 they would be on £46,649, leaving them on average £6,137 worse off.

Ms Haigh said: “It is long past time to stop dithering and take action.

“The Government has spent seven years asking the police to do ever more while slashing their pay year after year, leading to rock bottom morale and skyrocketing resignations.

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Shadow police minister Louise Haigh (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“Their cuts to police numbers and pay have left the force at its lowest strength on record as it faces soaring crime and record demand.

“We hope that ministers will finally listen to us and agree a fully funded and fair pay settlement for police officers this week but they must not simply put the financial burden on already over stretched forces.

“A Labour government would end the public sector pay cap so that our police get the salary they deserve, and fund the recruitment of another ten thousand officers to restore neighbourhood policing.”

The Treasury is due to send out letters within weeks setting out the remit for public sector pay review bodies for next year’s pay round and Mr Hammond is under pressure to allow them greater flexibility to recommend more generous rises for other public sector workers.

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(PA graphic)

Labour will seek to capitalise on the Tories’ lack of a majority by forcing a House of Commons vote on Wednesday on scrapping the 1% cap for NHS workers in a bid to bounce the Government into taking action.

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From Belfast Telegraph