William Eichler 25 August 2022

Low-paid council workers forced to skip meals

Low-paid council workers forced to skip meals image
Image: Yingzaa_ST/Shutterstock.com.

Public sector staff on low wages, including care workers and local authority employees, are being forced to miss meals by the cost of living crisis, a union survey has revealed.

A poll published today by Unison found that the vast majority (95%) of public sector workers on a low wage are finding it difficult to pay their household bills.

The survey findings, which are based on responses from more than 3,000 public service workers earning £20,000 or less, show that many are missing meals, not visiting the dentist and taking on second jobs.

Published in Unison’s new report, Together We Rise, the poll found that a total of 84% say rising bills and pressures on their household budgets are taking a toll on their health, with 31% skipping meals and 11% skipping meals to feed their children.

More than half (53%) said the financial help does not address concerns about rising bills because of other increasing costs such as food and petrol. And more than two fifths (42%) said what ministers have offered comes nowhere near addressing their financial worries.

Nearly two in five (39%) said they have or plan to increase work hours, 27% to take a second job, and 19% to leave the public sector for a job elsewhere.

Unison says that the Government’s failure to address low wages is putting public service staff under intolerable work strain and leading to others quitting the sector altogether.

Commenting on the findings, Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘The cost-of-living crisis has decimated household incomes.

‘Low-paid workers have nothing left to cut from their budgets. They’re now forced to take drastic measures which could damage their health and leave them deeper in debt. Some may never recover from the financial and emotional hit.

‘Many can’t afford to work in public services any longer, which will have a devastating effect on our communities. The Government must realise that to protect services and the people who rely on them, staff need to be paid fairly with wages increases in line with, or above, inflation.’

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