The Scottish government is expected to announce a pay freeze of at least one year for all council workers earning more than £21,000 in tomorrow’s budget.
Ministers have estimated that the comprehensive spending review will reduce Scotland’s overall budget for 2010-11 by £1.3bn and a one-year public sector pay freeze would save £300m and 10,000 jobs.
But social workers in Scotland could face further restraint after the freeze is lifted, if the government accepts recommendations made by the Independent Budget Review panel in July.
The review found the public sector workforce was expanding at an “unsustainable” rate and set out four options for reducing costs over the next two years, including a pay freeze for those earning more than £21,000.
The review recommended that pay should rise only by between 2% and 3.1% in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Finance secretary John Swinney is expected to announce a one-year freeze from April but, according to The Herald, there is speculation that it could last two years.
The Herald also reports that Labour has accused the Scottish National Party of implementing Tory cuts and has called for Swinney to announce a three-year budget so that councils can plan ahead.
John Stevenson, member of the social work issues group at Unison Scotland, raised concerns about the impact of the pay freeze.
“Just at a time when Scotland was beginning to show real respect for the profession, social workers are now being asked to pay the costs incurred by banks and big business,” he said.
He pointed out that most social workers in Scotland are employed by local authorities and already faced a pay cut in real terms.
Unison lodged a formal dispute with Cosla, the umbrella group for Scottish councils, after it imposed a 0.65% pay rise on council workers this year and a pay freeze in 2011 and 2012. Cosla rejected the union’s claim for a one-year rise of 3% or £600, whichever was greater.
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