How bad is the public sector pay squeeze?

Many workers are feeling the squeeze as living costs rise.

The measure of public sector disenchantment with this government is that a taxman, of all people, has sent me his payslips since 2010 - to prove how much worse off he and his colleagues have become since the advent of austerity and the pay restraint imposed on servants of the state.

Now to be clear, he is pretty well paid by most standards, on a gross salary of £40,194.

But the thing is that his pay was £39,643 in the summer of 2010.

And after tax and national insurance, he took home £2,434.02 a month seven years ago - which is more than his current net pay of £2,405.02.

During this period, prices including housing costs (CPIH) have risen by just under 25%.

It is not often any of us weep for the taxman.

But he - like hundreds of thousands of public sector workers - has endured a squeeze on living standards without modern precedent.

The point is that for the huge numbers of public servants in the middle of their careers, the opportunities to earn more from promotion are limited.

That is why so many of them were unimpressed by Theresa May's claimthat a typical police officer who joined the force in 2010 would be 32% better off today after tax - because this refers to someone right at the start of their career who has enjoyed seven years' worth of annual progression pay increments.

Nurses want the 1% pay-rise cap scrapped. Credit: PA

It is not a great advert for working in vital public-sector jobs that once spurs have been earned, and salary has risen to make it affordable to have a family, what lies beyond is years of grinding falls in living standards.

This is not great for the popularity of May's Tory party.

But more importantly, it is a disaster for the ability of our public services to recruit and retain the brightest and best.