BMG’s recent poll for the Independent shows that a majority of the public think the one-percent freeze on public sector pay has been unfair and believe it is “the right time” to remove the restraints.

Conducted between 12-15th September, the poll shows that a majority (51%) believe restraints have been “unjustified”. Only 26% stated that the curbs were “justified” and 23% answered don’t know.

Public sector pay was frozen for two years in 2010, except for those earning less than £21,000 a year, and since 2013, rises have been capped at 1%, which is currently below the rate of inflation. Last week, Theresa May’s Government announced it would be giving Police Officers and Prison staff a pay rise in 2017/2018 of more than 1%.

It appears that the public approves of the Government’s change in direction. A larger majority – some 62% – feel that now is the “right time” to lift the pay restraints, with only 14% against the move. There is support for lifting the cap across the political divide, with 61% of Conservative Party supporters in favour of an increase. There is a clear majority of Labour (71%) and Lib Dem (74%) voters also in support of increases in public sector pay.

However, the polling also suggests that whilst the public wants to see the cap lifted, it is possible that Theresa May will be given little credit for the change. Around a third of those polled (32%) stated that it was Jeremy Corbyn who has been more instrumental in the policy change, compared to fewer than one quarter of Britons (22%) who said that the change came about principally through Theresa May’s influence.  Close to half (46%) were unsure as to which party leader was more influential in ending the cap for the Police and Prison Officers.

The poll, conducted between the 11th and 14th July 2017, asked respondents whether they would be willing to pay more in tax in order to fund an above one percent pay rise for those working in so-called ‘blue-lights’ public sector occupations, such as firefighters, police officers, paramedics and nurses. A majority (56%) supported the policy proposal, with just over a quarter (28%) opposing the measure. 16% answered don’t know.

However, the July Independent/BMG poll also revealed that there was less support for raising pay for public sector workers more widely. Only 42% of respondents supported paying more in tax to fund a blanket pay rise across the public sector, with 41% against.

An article based on these polling results, released by the Independent, can be found here

For an article reporting our previous polling on the public sector pay cap, also conducted on behalf of the Independent in July 2017, please click here

Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.

For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.


0121 333 6006

Andrew Tromans – Graduate Research Executive


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