The West Country stands to be relegated to the bottom division of the Chancellor's proposed new pay league, the South West TUC has warned.

George Osborne is in tomorrow's Budget expected to announce measures to introduce regional pay measures for public servants - a move that would see workers in the South West earn less than their counterparts in other parts of the country.

The South West TUC fears a move to further cut public sector pay will hit the region hard because of the high percentage (27.1%) of public sector workers in the South West and because of the already low pay (£1.58 per hour less than the UK average). Devon and Cornwall, in particular, would be badly affected because the pay rates for the two counties are lower still - £2.55 less for Devon and £3.59 less for Cornwall than the £14.90 national average.

It would also stifle economic growth and lead to a drain of skills from the region, as public servants move to regions where they would be paid more.

Nigel Costley said: "The government claims that by setting lower pay for about a third of the local workforce it will somehow boost the private sector. There is no evidence for this, however, and cutting the earning of the police, teachers, nurses will do nothing but harm to an economy that relies on consumer spending.

"Instead of switching to the private sector, good public servants will move to other parts of the country to get better pay. With around six people chasing every job vacancy and jobs being lost from public services, where is the evidence that private firms cannot recruit because the public sector gets the best people?

"This proposal will lock-in the region's place at the foot of the pay table and set back years of struggle to boost pay rates across the local economy. The government claims to have the private sector in mind when devising this idea but the most successful national private firms don't do it. Most have national pay rates outside of London.

"We call on the region's MPs to oppose this measure, or risk the wrath of working people at the next election."

Press release (400 words) issued 20 Mar 2012