Government must get a grip on the cost-of-living crisis and increase public sector pay

Urgent action needed to stop further slide into poverty

Public sector pay must be increased and the government has to introduce new measures to give emergency help for hard-pressed people as calamitous new pressures worsen the cost-of-living squeeze even further today (Friday), UNISON says.

Without a pay rise to help workers meet soaring costs, vital public services will struggle to hang on to skilled staff which could put some services at risk. Failure to help public sector workers will push countless families into poverty.

The union is calling for urgent action as energy prices rise sharply today, on top of the 30-year high for UK inflation with fuel prices and household bills continuing to spiral. A hike in national insurance begins next week.

After more than a decade of pay restraint, many workers have already trimmed all they can from their household budgets, says UNISON. There’s nothing left to cut to meet the extra costs with hundreds of thousands of families already struggling to put food on the table, says UNISON.

Frontline staff are facing real-terms pay cut, as soaring inflation drives prices through the roof and the scrapping of free lateral flow tests for millions of people adds extra costs to household budgets.

Staff, including health workers, teaching assistants, refuse collectors, hospital cleaners and care workers, still reeling from the shock of helping the nation cope with the pandemic, will be clobbered again, UNISON says.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The government seems to have no idea of the enormity of the problems faced by ordinary people. They’re sliding into poverty in huge numbers while ministers simply sit back and watch. Hard-working people and families are desperate for a lifeline.

“It’s shameful that people doing high skilled, high-value jobs on which everyone depends, don’t get paid enough to meet their basic costs. Ministers are levelling down, not up.

“Successive Westminster governments have chipped away at public sector pay. Now staff are desperate, the government is offering little to lessen the pain. People don’t need tax cuts in two years, they want real help now.

“Wage rises that outstrip inflation are a must. Unlike previous years, skilled workers have options and many will leave for better paid work if their employers don’t offer them a decent pay rise. For the public sector that’s a disaster if there aren’t the staff to maintain essential services. Their pay mustn’t be allowed to slip further behind the cost-of-living.

“But ministers also need an urgent plan to ease the financial pressure or millions of people across the UK will buckle under the strain.”

Notes to editors:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.