Unions representing public service workers have attacked the lack of detail in the Budget despite confirmation of an end to the freeze on pay.
One official said it was “meaningless” to talk about increasing pay without information on how much workers will receive.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed to MPs that the public sector pay freeze will end, with increases returning to the pay review process.
GMB general secretary Gary Smith said: “The Chancellor’s Budget is big on headline-capturing announcements but scant on detail.
“Public sector workers must be guaranteed a proper real-terms pay rise if the Conservatives are to start making up for their ruinous decade of austerity.”
He said many of the Chancellor’s announcements were “vague at best”, adding: “It all reeks of vacuous gesture politics.”
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “For all the talk of lifting the public sector pay freeze, when it comes to the crunch, the Chancellor has shown his promises are merely fake news.
“It is an empty gesture to announce you are ending a pay freeze without providing extra money from the Treasury.
“With inflation running at 3.1%, with some forecasts predicting 5% by early 2022, any lifting of pay below that level is akin to a real-terms cut.
“None of today’s rhetoric will do anything to alleviate the real economic hardship our members are experiencing every day.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “The pay freeze this year was nothing short of an insult, but the hint of a pay rise may still prove to be a con.
“If the Chancellor expects to meet a pay rise through existing budgets then we will see further cuts and impossible decisions for school and college leaders attempting to balance their books.
“The NEU will be watching Rishi Sunak’s next steps carefully – on giving the School Teachers Review Body its head, on taking on board its recommendations, and on funding them fully so that leaders are able to properly reward and retain all their staff.”
Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Public sector workers won’t be raising many glasses to the chancellor. With no certainty pay will rise above inflation, services will go on shedding experienced staff.
“Only time will tell if the Government’s public sector wage policy is thawing. Otherwise, the pay freeze ends in name only.”
Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen said: “The pay freeze hit nurses working in social care and the community, but whether in the NHS or not, nursing staff need a proper pay rise that finally recognises their skill and professionalism.
“He failed to address their pay and again kicked the can down the road by failing to give any commitment to a funded strategy for England to address the tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs in health and care.”