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UK public servants get pay hike after years of austerity

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London (AFP)

Around one million British public sector workers will get their biggest pay rise in almost a decade, the government announced Tuesday after lifting a one-percent pay cap imposed in 2013.

Teachers will get 3.5 percent more pay, the armed forces will get a 2.9-percent rise and prison officers will get an increase of 2.75 percent.

The cost of scrapping the one-percent cap is estimated at £4 billion ($5.25 billion, 4.5 billion euros).

Police officers will get two percent more pay, meaning the average annual salary for a constable will now be more than £38,600.

A pay increase of at least two percent will be awarded to junior doctors, specialist doctors, family doctors (general practitioners, GPs) and dentists.

After taking office in 2010, the Conservatives imposed a two-year public sector pay freeze and then imposed a pay cap of one percent in England from 2013, in a bid to balance the books following the financial crisis.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss -- the number two in the finance ministry -- told parliament it was the "biggest pay rise in almost 10 years" for around one million public sector workers.

"We were able to announce these pay rises only thanks to the hard work of the British people which has brought down the deficit by over three quarters and allowed us to reach the point where the debt will begin to fall this year," she said.

Opposition Labour finance spokesman Peter Dowd called the pay increase "a mendacious PR exercise".

"After eight years of real terms pay cuts for employees in the public sector, our police officers, junior doctors, some specialist doctors, GPs, dentists, are all being offered a further real terms pay cut."

Britain's annual inflation rate stood at 2.4 percent held in June, the lowest level in 15 months, official data showed last week, denting prospects of a UK interest rate hike next month.

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