UNISON chief challenges Policy Exchange data
Dave Prentis said:
"This a crude attempt to drive a wedge between the nation‚s workforce and provoke a race to the bottom on pay and conditions. The data used is out of date and does not reflect the true picture and it does not compare like with like. It should be taken with a huge barrel of salt.
"This year the banking and finance sector, the utilities, car manufacturing, the retail sector have all had pay increases and city bonuses have made a spectacular come-back.
"There are many more professionals in the public sector, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, judges, admirals, police chiefs and so on. And the lowest paid jobs have been contracted out to the private sector, thus skewing the figures.
"Last year saw the end of multi-year pay deals in some public services, including the NHS. Local government is in the second year of a pay freeze and those earning less than 21,000 have not had the 250 pounds promised in the budget. And they face huge job cuts and further attacks on their pay, conditions and pensions."
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, middle-income public sector workers, earning between £20,000 and £35,000 a year will face a triple impact of the government‚s austerity measures. Compared to equivalent private sector workers, their gross pay will fall by 6.6 per cent by 2014-15, even before the planned 3 per cent rise in pension contributions. Tax rises and benefit cuts for this group are likely to reduce incomes by a further 3 to 4 per cent in absolute terms. At the same time, a further 320,000 public sector employees are expected to have lost their jobs by 2014-15.
The IFS also estimates that in the years from 2008 ˆ 2011 real household incomes will have fallen by 1.6%, rather than rising by 5% as would be expected. This would be the biggest drop in real living standards since 1980-83.
A joint survey by PCS and UNISON of more than 10,000 public sector workers, has confirmed the devastating impact the Government‚s cuts and pay freeze is having on family life across the UK. The report shows a third of respondents have personal debts of £10,000 or more. As money coming in has grown tighter and the cost of living has risen, 71% have cut down spending on food, 33% on vital healthcare such as dentists and prescriptions, 22% on children‚s footwear and clothes, 47% cut down on exercise while 89% reduced spending on going out.
On top of tax and benefit changes and pay freezes, many council workers are being hit by charges of between £500-£700 a year to park at work, at the same time as car allowances are being cut to as low as 40 pence an hour. Those at the bottom of the ladder also face cuts in housing benefit, disability living allowance, council tax benefit and other welfare payments over the next year or two. Childcare cuts alone will cost families £780 a year. In April workers face higher national insurance contributions ˆ an extra 1 per cent taken from their wages for most.
The lowest income families will get hit the hardest -- 77% of the lowest income sectors in the country were unable to afford adequate fuel at the last count. Save the Children has calculated that the poorest families pay more for fuel and other basic goods and services than better-off families in the UK. This annual Œpoverty premium‚ can amount to more than £1,280 for a typical low-income family. Even large UK corporations are worried about the impact the fall in real wages will have on the wider economy. Richard Brasher, Chief Executive of Tesco's in the UK said the 'inexorable rise of fuel prices' as well as higher utility bills and taxes was costing households an extra £12 a week - the equivalent of a 5% rise in income tax for poorer families, creating a 'real challenge' for consumer confidence.