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Nicola Sturgeon ‘to scrap 1% cap on public sector pay rises’

The Scottish Government said MSPs could expect to hear details of Ms Sturgeon’s “most ambitious” programme yet.

Nicola Sturgeon will scrap the 1% cap on public sector pay rises when she sets out her legislative plans for the coming year, it is understood.

The First Minister will announce the measure when she reveals her 2017/18 programme for government on Tuesday, according to reports.

The SNP had committed to lifting the pay cap for public sector workers earlier this year, describing it as “increasingly unsustainable”.

A Scottish Government source told the Sunday Herald: “The Programme for Government will make clear that the time has come to ditch the 1% pay cap for the public sector.

“The cap will go from next year and future pay policy will take account of the cost of living.

“We need to ensure that future pay rises are affordable, but we also need to reflect the circumstances people are facing, and recognise the contribution made by workers across the public sector.”

Scottish Labour described the move as a “U-turn” after the party’s bid to scrap the cap for NHS nurses was defeated at Holyrood in May.

Measures to protect the environment are to be announced to MSPs (Ben Birchall/PA)

The Scottish Conservatives said the SNP were “still playing catch-up” on last year’s programme, with less than a quarter of the bills proposed in 2016 passed.

The party has called for legislation on local government funding, business rates and planning, as well as bills on education, the introduction of whole-life sentencing and Frank’s Law, which would allow under-65s with conditions like dementia to receive free personal care.

Leader Ruth Davidson said: “Scotland cannot afford a repeat of last year’s programme for government, when the SNP set out a range of ideas, but delivered on hardly any.

“Even without the upcoming programme, ministers would still be playing catch-up on last year.

“We need to build more homes, recruit more teachers and get our economy back in the fast lane.”

Ruth Davidson said Scotland needs to build more homes (Jane Barlow/PA)

Interim leader Alex Rowley MSP said: “This SNP U-turn is long overdue – and it is welcome to see that (Finance Secretary) Derek Mackay has finally followed Labour’s lead to end the pay cap.

“The SNP voted down a Labour motion to end the pay cap for our hard-working nurses earlier this year.

“This SNP’s change of heart should be followed by a commitment to go further and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to end austerity and invest in public services.”

In June an attempt by the UK Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn to reverse the long-running freeze was voted down by Conservative and Democratic Unionist MPs.

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