I thank the Minister for his reply, even if it was short. In a previous debate, his party colleague Mr O'Dowd referenced the need to tackle low pay, which I agree with. Given that Civil Service workers have been working hard throughout the pandemic, and for many years a lot of them have been forced to take up an extra job, will the Minister commit to paying Civil Service workers an above-inflation offer, to help deal with the extra costs and pressures of everyday life, especially those associated with COVID-19?
We voted for the Budget to give low-paid workers an increase, but I think that the Member did not vote for it. I fully accept that workers are under pressure, which is why we made an offer to the trade unions. Unfortunately, they could not fully consult on it because of the COVID restrictions. The overall award is worth 2·65% on the Civil Service pay bill. The award for civil servants at the lowest pay grade was 3%, which was a further 2% increase on 2019, meaning that the lowest paid civil servants have received a 5% increase across the last two years. I fully recognise the commitment of many in our Civil Service who have stepped up to the plate during the pandemic and the emergency that we have faced, and it is important to recognise that with an above-inflation pay rise, which is what I have offered.