Social workers among council employees who ‘need and deserve’ pay rise, say Labour

Labour has called on ministers to “make a better fist” of dealing with low pay for council binmen and social workers than it has with striking railway workers.

As shadow communities secretary Lisa Nandy said that council workers “need and deserve a pay rise”, she was branded the “Marty McFly of politics” by Michael Gove.

Labour frontbencher Ms Nandy (pictured) said there was “another crisis” on the horizon after a “week of travel chaos” in the wake of the RMT union strikes.

She said: “The local government cleaners, social workers, the refuse workers who can’t afford to feed their families on the wages they are paid.

“They need and deserve a pay rise but he knows that workers and council leaders struggling with record Tory inflation cannot square this circle alone.

“Nobody wants rubbish piling up in the streets, nobody wants older people left in their homes, nobody wants families left to break, so will he commit to making a better fist of this than his hopeless colleague at transport?”

Mr Gove said Labour would be “better served” by using its links to the trade unions to “get workers back to work”.

But Ms Nandy described his answer as “laughable”, adding: “He talks about Labour doing our jobs, the last time we had strikes on this level was under the Thatcher Government in 1989.

“Where was he?

“He was on a picket line.”

In 1989, Mr Gove was reportedly involved in an industrial dispute while working as a trainee journalist in Aberdeen.

Hinting at the possibility of a Labour leadership contest, Mr Gove replied: “She talks about back to the future, she would take us back to the future of the 80s, of strikes, of inflation … she is the Marty McFly of politics, someone who lives in the past even as she aspires to greater things.”

Elsewhere in the debate, MPs aired their grievances about the differing amounts of money spent across regions of the UK.

Conservative Jake Berry, the leader of the Northern Research Group of Tory MPs, called for a “levelling up formula to equalise Government spending across our UK”.

The MP for Rossendale and Darwen suggested ministers should “accept that it’s hard to deliver long-term ambitious levelling up plans as set out in law without a long-term mechanism for funding them”.

Labour’s Mick Whitley (Birkenhead) said: “The shared prosperity fund allocated to Liverpool City Region, £10 million a year less than we previously received from the EU.

“Will the Secretary of State concede that this is the latest in a long line of broken Tory promises and commit to reforming an out of date, inadequate and wholly arbitrary funding formula that has seen some of the most deprived communities in the country lose out on vital sources of funding?”

Mr Gove replied: “I’d respectfully disagree with (him).

“I think it is that case – not just that the UK shared prosperity fund, but the other investment that we’ve seen in Liverpool City Region, this Government is absolutely committed, not just to matching, but to exceeding the support that was given under the European Union.”

Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, meanwhile called on ministers to be honest with the British public and admit that just building houses on brownfield sites “won’t meet the needs”.

He told the Commons: “The fact is if this Government wants to build some houses, it has got to do them sometimes on green land, others on the different sites and be imaginative about it.

“Don’t con the British people: brownfield land building won’t meet the needs.”

Housing minister Stuart Andrew replied: “I completely disagree with him.

“The fact is that we have run a national register, it has identified over 28,000 hectares of developable land, enough for a million homes.

“I make no apology for wanting regeneration.

“I make no apology for wanting brownfield before green belt.”

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