Opposition to regional pay

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Councillors have put aside their political differences to oppose government plans to introduce lower regional wages for public sector workers in the county.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is debating whether to bring in new pay rates for teachers, nurses and council workers based on where they live.

In a motion to a meeting of the full Northumberland County Council last week, Labour group leader Grant Davey urged the authority to fight the policy, saying it would harm the north east and make it difficult for the region’s schools and hospitals to recruit the best teachers and medics.

“Regional pay will not work,” he said. “The motion gives all parties a chance to send a strong message to the coalition government.

“This is an issue that we need to take very, very seriously in Northumberland. Workers in Northumberland are paid £77 less per week than the British average.

“I believe regional or local public sector pay would have a harmful effect across the north east. We do not want to be forever defined as a ‘low pay’ region.”

Conservative group leader Coun Peter Jackson said: “It is a whole county issue. Regional pay is wrong – it is wrong to differentiate between one part of the country and another.”

Council leader Jeff Reid said: “We would never vote for it – it ain’t gonna happen.”

The council agreed to write to the Chancellor stating their opposition.