Liz Truss 'Never Proposed' Paying Public Sector Staff Outside London Less, Brandon Lewis Insists

The former cabinet minister's claim directly contradicted a press release issued by the Truss campaign.
Brandon Lewis is backing Liz Truss in the leadership contest.
Brandon Lewis is backing Liz Truss in the leadership contest.
Jeff Overs/BBC via PA Media

Plans to pay public sector workers less in poorer parts of the country “was not something that was ever proposed” by Liz Truss, one of her key supporters has insisted.

Brandon Lewis’s comments appeared to directly contradict a press release issued by the foreign secretary’s leadership campaign just two days ago.

Truss was forced into a screeching U-turn yesterday after the policy, which was designed to save the public purse £8.8bn, was savaged by senior Tories.

It was part of an overall package designed to save £11bn of “Whitehall waste”.

The press release said: “By introducing regional boards, civil servant pay can be adjusted in line with the actual areas where civil servants work, saving billions.

“This will also avoid the public sector crowding out the private sector in places where private business just can’t compete with public sector pay.”

The release added: “This could save up to £8.8 billion per year. This is the potential savings if the system were to be adopted for all public sector workers in the long term.”

Asked about the policy on Radio Four’s Today programme, Lewis said: “The word in there that’s important is the word ‘if’ - that was not something that was ever proposed and Liz made it clear yesterday that this is not a policy that is being taken forward.”

He added: “The reality is that what Liz was outlining as a package yesterday was how you deal with Whitehall waste.

“Liz herself made it clear yesterday that she is not taking this policy forward.”

On Sky News later, Lewis repeated his denial that what was in the press release was ever a policy proposal.

He said: “What was outlined there was what you could save if you did this across the board - that was never the case. This was about what you could do with new people coming into the civil service. But she’s been clear we’re not going to do that.”

Announcing her U-turn yesterday, Truss said: “I never had any intention of changing the terms and conditions of teachers and nurses,” she said.

“But what I want to be clear about is I will not be going ahead with the regional pay boards. That is no longer my policy.”

There was better news for Truss, however, in a new YouGov poll which showed she was increased her lead over Rishi Sunak to 34 points, up 10 points on a week ago.

A Truss campaign spokesperson said: “We have great momentum and Liz’s message of economic growth, low taxes and her ability to deliver from day one is resonating with members.

“We are not complacent and will continue to fight for every single vote. Liz is out across the country meeting as many members as possible and showing why she is the candidate who will deliver on our 2019 manifesto promises, unleash the full opportunities of Brexit and unite the party.”

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