Tory leadership contender Liz Truss has come under fire for "levelling down" with her plans which would lead to public sector workers in the North East facing pay cuts.

Truss has promised to save billions of pounds by cutting the civil service but has been warned that nurses and teachers in the North East would face the brunt of the savings.

If she becomes leader she hopes to save up to £11bn a year with the bulk of the savings – a massive £8.8 billion – coming from paying workers living in cheaper areas of the country less than counterparts in places like London and the South East where the cost of living is higher.

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Deputy Labour Leader Angela Rayner branded the plans “levelling down” saying they would worsen the North-South divide.

She said: “Liz Truss is declaring war on herself with this recipe for levelling down.

“A race to the bottom that would cut the pay of school and NHS workers outside London, widening the divide and punishing the North.

“This out-of-touch Tory Government’s commitment to levelling up is dead.”

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said: “If Liz Truss is elected, and if she tries to go ahead with these proposals, she’ll face opposition every step of the way.

“Civil servants are not a political tool to be used and abused for one person’s ambition; they are the hard-working people who keep the country running, day in day out, and they deserve respect.”

Institute for Government programme director Alex Thomas said the £8.8 billion proposed for savings from regional pay bargaining would not come from Whitehall.

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Mr Thomas told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The whole Civil Service pay bill is only about £9 billion.

“You’re not going to reduce the Civil Service pay bill to £200 million unless you pretty radically reshape the state.

“I know she wants to be radical but possibly not quite that much, so it’s going to come from the wider public sector, it’s going to come from nurses and teachers and local authorities.”

He argued the “complicated and controversial” move would mean nurses and teachers being paid less or receiving slower pay rises than others, adding: “This is not war on Whitehall, it’s more like war on Workington.”

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