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Rishi Sunak says public sector pay freeze is not a return to austerity

Chancellor says plans will mean more money for health, education and police, as unions refuse to rule out strikes

Rishi Sunak has rejected accusations that his planned public sector pay freeze amounts to a return of austerity and insisted that spending plans to be announced on Wednesday will result in more money for health, education and the police.

With trade unions demanding that the chancellor do a last-minute U-turn over his clearly signalled intention to clamp down on the state’s wage bill and refusing to rule out strikes, Sunak said there would be significant increases in spending on public services next year.

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