The prime minister said on Saturday he could only grant public sector pay rises that meet his principles of “fairness, affordability and responsibility”.
Mr Sunak and his government have argued for much of the last year that they must heed the recommendations of the independent bodies during a wave of strikes.
But now he is struggling to fulfill his promise to halve inflation this year and said “no decisions” had been made on whether to go along with the proposals.
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“It would be incredibly short-sighted for the government to do something that might sound great today but ultimately only makes the inflation problem worse for everyone in the long run,” he told broadcasters during a campaign stop in Selby.
“We’ll be guided by that, we want to be fair, we want things that are affordable and responsible.”
He said we were “working incredibly hard day and night to bring inflation down” but warned that doing so would require “difficult decisions”.
“Ultimately, if we don’t do this, the situation will only get worse and it will last longer, which will not do anyone any good,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be the right prime minister if I took the easy route. I’m going to do what’s right for the country over the long term, and that means bringing down inflation.”
The Times reported that Mr Sunak was facing private pressure to accept increases set by pay review bodies, with a range of recommendations believed to be centered at around 6%.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, Health Secretary Steve Barclay, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk and Home Secretary Suella Braverman are said to have been among those who urged Mr Sunak to accept them.
Jeremy Hunt has warned he must “double up” on high prices and cannot take action that would “pump billions of pounds of additional demand into the economy” as he appears to be ruling out bigger tax cuts this autumn.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the Chancellor said that the implementation of this promise “will be bigger than we thought”.
The prime minister has promised to halve inflation to around 5% by the end of the year as one of his top five priorities for the country, but it has remained stubborn at 8.7%.