REPORTS that more than 5 million public sector workers in England may face a pay freeze have sparked fury this morning.

The Chancellor, who is due to set out his spending review next week, is reportedly considering a pay freeze for millions including key workers like teachers, police, the armed forces and civil servants.

It is expected that healthcare workers would not have their pay frozen as a reward for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

At his review, Rishi Sunak is expected to set out plans to restrain pay as the Treasury attempts to bolster its finances. Spending has increased significantly during the pandemic.

The Treasury has not commented on the reports.

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But it is thought the Government is being a swayed by a Centre for Policy Studies report which says a three-year public sector pay freeze, excluding NHS workers, could save £23 billion.

Unions lined up to slam the news, with Unison general secretary Dave Prentis calling the plans a “cruel body blow” to key workers.

Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary, commented: “We will not stand by and allow public sectors workers to pay for this crisis with new austerity and a morale-sapping wage freeze. This is a kick in the teeth for those who have been fighting the pandemic.

“Workers have lost friends and loved ones. The crisis is still raging. Now they're being kicked while they're down.

“Our key workers are still feeling the effect of ten years of Tory austerity, pay freezes and squeezes. Rishi Sunak is now poised to add insult to injury for millions of public sector workers.

“Ministers are doling out billions in contracts for their chums, and all the while plotting real terms wage cuts for working people on the frontline of the coronavirus response.”

Meanwhile Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, said the reports “will send alarm bells ringing in Scotland”.

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“A pay freeze would be a slap in the face for workers on the frontline tackling coronavirus,” the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP wrote on Twitter.

“These Tory cuts would threaten Scotland's recovery - and come on top of the damage that is already being done by Boris Johnson's extreme Brexit, which has taken more than £4 billion out of Scotland's economy.

“It is clear the Tories have learnt absolutely nothing from the last decade of Westminster cuts, which pushed millions into poverty, damaged public services, squeezed living standards, and held the UK economy back.”

Blackford said Scotland shouldn’t have to wait for Westminster to act, adding that it is “clearer than ever” that independence is the only way to ensure a strong and fair recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.