The decade between 2008 and 2018 was particularly bad for pay growth in the UK, with wages falling behind inflation significantly. This has been felt especially hard by teachers and social workers, who have seen their real-term incomes decline considerably over this period. This has had an awful impact on morale amongst these professionals, who are vital to running our society.

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According to research conducted by unions, social workers have seen their salaries rise by just 0.4% each year since 2009 when adjusted for inflation, amounting to a huge drop of 13% in the value of their earnings compared to if they had kept pace with inflation. Teachers have not fared much better; between 2010 and 2016, their wages increased by just 0.7%, with the cumulative effect of inflation meaning that they are now paid 9% less than they were in 2010. This comes when their workloads have increased significantly, leading to frustration amongst many teachers across the country.

The lost decade for pay growth has led to real hardship for many teachers and social workers who struggle to make ends meet on their current salary. These professionals must be adequately rewarded for their hard work, as society would not be able to function properly without them. Unfortunately, with Brexit looming large, there seems little hope of a turnaround shortly – something which will leave teachers and social workers feeling even more despondent about the prospects for pay growth going forward.


The last decade has been a particularly tough one for teachers and social workers, who have seen their real-term earnings decline significantly. With Brexit looming, the prospect of a return to pay growth shortly seems slim – something which will be a great disappointment for these vital members of our society. We must recognise the hard work and dedication of teachers and social workers and reward them fairly for their efforts. Only then can we hope to make up for the lost decade and ensure that those working in these crucial roles are given the salaries they deserve

The evidence shows that UK public sector pay has stagnated or declined since 2008. This has had a particularly damaging impact on teachers and social workers, leaving them with real-term pay cuts that have put a strain on their finances. The government must take action to reverse this trend and ensure these professionals receive the wages they deserve for their hard work, dedication and commitment to our society. Only then can we hope to make up for the ‘lost decade’ of pay growth in UK public services and restore morale amongst these key workers

What do you think of the ‘lost decade’?