The parlous state of the British economy dictated that restraint in public sector pay was non-negotiable when the coalition government took office in 2010.
In his first Budget in June 2010, George Osborne announced a two-year pay freeze for all public sector workers earning more than £21,000.
And in his Autumn Statement last November the Chancellor said that pay rises in the public sector would be capped at 1% for the two years following that pay freeze.
Painful for those in the public sector? Yes. But also necessary if this country is to get on top of its unprecedented deficit and return the economy to a position of long-term sustainable growth.
However, it would appear that - to misquote Orwell - some public sector salaries have been more frozen than others, based on evidence published in a new TaxPayers' Alliance report out today.
We have looked into how many staff at councils across the Midlands have taken home remuneration of £50,000 or more over these last couple of years and the figures we obtained raise serious cause for concern.
The number of staff taking £50,000+ has increased by 759 in the last financial year - from 6,474 in 2009-10 to 7,265 in 2010-11 - an increase of more than 12%.
Ah, you say, but doesn't that figure include those who have received redundancy payments, taking their overall remuneration over the £50,000 figure? Yes it does, but if you take them out of the equation, you still end up with an eight percent increase in staff on packages of more than £50,000.
Look through the figures for yourself and you will see some astounding statistics, such as the fact that in Stoke-on-Trent £99.41 per head of local population was spent on the £50,000+ remuneration for 356 employees.
These figures suggest that in many local authorities the need for austerity has been completely bypassed.
The government urgently needs to assess whether its decree on public sector pay has been broken, because it certainly seems that with many lower-paid workers being laid off or having to cope with a pay freeze, there are a number of middle managers who have somehow ending up getting bigger pay packets over the last 12 months. Not only is that unfair, but it makes a mockery of the government's mantra that "we're all in this together."
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