Unions angry over social worker ‘pay freeze’

Social workers feel “angry and betrayed” by plans to cap public sector pay rises to 1% from 2011-13, said the general secretary of Unison today.

Dave Prentis also reacted angrily to chancellor Alistair Darling’s announcement in the pre-Budget report that state contributions to the pensions of local government employees would be capped by 2012, saving £1bn a year.

“Capping pension contributions will reduce the already small public sector pensions even further,” said Prentis.

“The average pension in local government is just £4,000 a year and less than £2,000 for women. This predicted £1bn saving could end up being paid out as benefits to those very same workers to keep them out of poverty in retirement.”

Aspect social care spokesperson Roger Kline said that, with consumer inflation forecasted to rise from 1.5% to about 3% early next year, a two-year pay cap of 1% was “unacceptable”.

“It is already accepted that social workers are underpaid,” he said. “The job is hard enough already without being asked to do it for even less.”

Darling said that the public sector is to face cuts of 0.8% each year from 2011-12 as a means of reducing the country’s debt. Some programmes will be abolished altogether.

Hilton Dawson, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, questioned the government’s commitment to the reforms proposed by the Social Work Task Force last week.

“How does [the cap on pay rises] equate with the recommendations on career structure and pay grades for social workers? It’s a slap in the face for the profession,” he said.

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