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‘Our frontline workers deserve more than clapping’

Our key workers have kept Portsmouth going during this pandemic. The reality of the Chancellor’s spending statement this week means a real terms cut for those dedicated to the services we all rely on. 

The Government is turning its back on them once again by freezing the pay of many frontline workers in the middle of a deadly second wave.

We cannot be praising the extraordinary efforts of our frontline workers one week, and the next make them pay the economic cost of this crisis the next. This is simply not acceptable behaviour from the government.

This is another short-sighted and irresponsible decision by a Chancellor who is constantly one step behind. Our frontline workers perform a wide variety of roles, including local police officers, classroom assistants, cleaners and kitchen porters, many of whom will now be worried about making ends meet this Christmas.

In turn, it will mean a cut back on spending in local businesses and high streets in Portsmouth and our economy won’t recover as quickly. These are just some of the concerns I have heard consistently raised when listening to those who serve our communities and engaging with local unions.

Freezing pay has also been disastrous for our public services, leaving them unable to recruit the staff they need during this time of unprecedented pressure on them.

But the Chancellor is trying to pass the buck for his own mistakes. He’s had to come back week in week out to change his plans, he blocked a circuit breaker leading to a longer, more painful lockdown, and he still hasn’t acted to fix Britain’s broken safety net. And all this is taking place as billions of pounds have been wasted on outsourced contracts which haven’t delivered.

We heard again this week our country has had the worst downturn in the G7. Sadly, this government is making yet another economically illiterate decision, with the Chancellor’s name is all over it.

As the official opposition, we would make responsible choices to protect all key workers, secure the economy and recover jobs in every part of the country.

The government should be doing all it can to build up confidence in the economy, not choking off the recovery at the worst possible time.

Now is the time to support and protect all our frontline workers in Portsmouth and city’s economy, not leave them by the wayside.

Stephen Morgan MP