Some NHS workers are being forced to go without food to feed their children, a UNISON survey has found.
More than three quarters of 6,500 public service workers surveyed said they had cut back on food shopping. Of the staff, including nurses and other healthcare workers, teaching assistants and police, 21% said that they would have to ‘make do without’ if they incurred an unexpected expense such as a broken down car or boiler.
Additionally, 10% said they had missed out on meals to feed their children and 2% said they had used a food bank.
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According to UNISON, the survey, released to coincide with its national conference in Brighton, highlights the problems caused by years of wage restraint.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘Seven long years ago nurses, school meals staff, social workers, PCSOs and other public service employees were told to tighten their belts as the government said it had to freeze and squeeze their wages to pay down the deficit.
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‘As a result public sector workers have seen their incomes fall drastically in real terms, and with inflation on the rise this means real financial hardship.’
Prentis said he believed it is time to end the current 1% pay cap on pay increases which is due to run until 2019.
‘Enough is enough,’ he said. ‘The election result showed that people have had enough of austerity and the damage being wreaked on public services and communities.
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‘The 1% cap has already been breached by wage awards to MPs, and top judges and civil servants. Now it’s time to lift it for everyone else in the public sector and give dedicated staff a decent, and long overdue, pay rise.’