A ‘toxic mix’ of falling wages, a freeze to in-work benefits, along with cuts to Universal Credit and its botched introduction will hammer the incomes of workers this winter Britain’s largest union, Unite warned today (Wednesday 18 October).
The warning comes as figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the longest squeeze in wages since the Napoleonic wars was continuing, with people still earing less in real terms than before the financial crash.
With wage growth in regular pay at 2.1 per cent and the Retail Price Index measure of inflation running at 3.9 per cent, Unite urged the government to ‘get a grip’ and give Britain a pay rise to boost incomes and the economy.
Commenting Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Many workers on low to middle incomes are facing a toxic mix this winter of falling wages and a Tory freeze of in-work benefits such as tax credits and housing benefit.
“This will only be compounded by the government’s cuts to Universal Credit and its botched introduction, which risks pushing people into debt and poverty because of a six week wait.
“While any fail in unemployment is positive, government minsters must get a grip of the continued squeeze in incomes that is leaving many families struggling to make ends meet.
“The government must be mindful that its continued proclamations of a jobs miracle will go down like the proverbial lead balloon among people piecing two and three badly paid, insecure jobs together to get by. Unless and until it addresses the five million with no income guarantees then they have a jobs failure on their hands.
“Tory minsters must step back from their unthinking dash to introduce Universal Credit at any cost. It will make working families nearly £3,000 a year poorer, again showing that under this government work does not pay. Heed the chorus of advice from across society – halt its rollout. To refuse to do so risks callously plunging people into debt and poverty.
“The government also needs to give Britain a pay rise by boosting the minimum wage and the wages of our public servants.”
For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.