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13 December 2022

Public sector pay is worth less than at any time since 2004

Inflation and pay freezes mean average public sector pay has fallen by 5.6 per cent since 2010.

By Giacomo Boscaini-Gilroy

Public sector pay has fallen 5.3 per cent in the past year when adjusted for inflation, according to data published by the Official for National Statistics today.

The figures for October 2022 show the average public sector worker earns £607 a week, compared to £641 in October 2021 once adjusted for inflation. Private sector earnings fell by 2.6 per cent in real terms over the same period.

Since the Conservatives entered office in May 2010 public sector workers have lost 5.6 per cent of their earnings, owing to higher inflation and pay freezes, while the average private sector worker has received a 4.3 per cent increase. You have to go back to 2004 to find a month when public sector workers were paid less than they are now.


This New Statesman analysis of the figures includes both basic pay and bonuses and uses the CPIH measure of inflation, which takes into account housing costs, to adjust earnings to October 2022 prices. The average salary rose by 3.2 per cent in the year to October 2022 but is still worth less than it was a year ago because that rise does not match CPIH inflation, which is at 9.6 per cent.

The new data comes as the UK experiences what is forecast to be the biggest wave of strikes in a single month since July 1989, in large part over pay, including rail workers, postal workers, nurses, border staff and driving examiners.

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[See also: Does the wave of strikes mark the end of the long 1990s?]

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