YOU do not have to a right-wing Tory to accept that the deficit in 2010 was spiralling out of control.

Bank bailouts had plunged the country into the red and the Conservative-LibDem coalition had little choice but to put the brakes on public spending.

Given that public sector salaries make up a huge proportion of overall spending, it was also inevitable that some element of wage restraint would be an important part of getting the deficit down.

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However, what the public got wasn't the kind of financial sense our grandparents operated by, but an austerity agenda of cruelty to the poor and bail-outs to the rich. Hundreds of thousands of public sector staff are sick of wages failing to keep up with the cost of living.

Deficit reduction became a hindrance to a decent life and an ideological obsession.

Wage restraint is particularly galling when loopholes exist which allow the highest-paid public sector staff to bust the pay cap - as such, bonus schemes cause resentment amongst low paid employees.

In the Ministry of Defence, a graded bonus scheme is being proposed that disproportionately benefits high earners.

If a “senior professional” is judged to have performed exceptionally, he or she will get a bonus worth 20% of salary. That's a far cry from the 1% pay cap facing nurses, teachers, police and firefighters.

The Government, which is never shy of telling voters money is tight, should dispense with bonuses and use the cash to fund a more generous pay rise for all its staff.