Usdaw survey reveals deterioration in living standards of shop workers

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Retail trade union Usdaw today announced findings of their cost of living survey, demonstrating the deterioration in living standards many working people have experienced.

The survey of over 6,500 workers has found that two-thirds have relied on borrowing to pay their everyday bills, with around half of them struggling with repayments.

Two-thirds are also significantly cutting down on heating in order to cope, and a quarter said they will no longer use the heating at all.

82 per cent of working parents feel worse off now than they did last year, according to the survey as more than a quarter of all parents have missed meals in the last year to pay bills.

The union has called for urgent government action, noting that the key workers struggling with the crisis must be questioning if the recognition they received was worth it.

Speaking at the Usdaw annual conference in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “Key workers were rightly praised for their incredible contributions throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. However, their heroic efforts appear to have been quickly forgotten and they must be asking themselves, was it worth it? Having worked throughout, risking their health and too often facing abuse from customers; many key workers are still struggling in low-paid insecure employment and now face a growing cost of living crisis.

“Wages are now lower in real terms than in 2008 and insecure work remains prevalent. The energy price cap rise has pushed many household budgets to the limit. As food prices rise, household budgets are being stretched, many workers are now being driven into debt to pay everyday bills. Worryingly, food bank usage has more than doubled in the past year. These are the very real experiences of mainly supermarket workers struggling to afford the basic food they need.”

Lillis accused that the government has so far not delivered anywhere near enough to help workers facing of this cost of living crisis, and called for a windfall tax on oil and gas producers, a reduction in VAT from 20 per cent to 17.5 per cent and a review of Universal Credit, which includes significant investment, to ensure it provides a social security benefit that more consistently supports workers in low-paid employment.

“If they don’t take the action we are calling for, the government will have simply failed to understand the scale of the challenge faced by millions of working households across the country,” he added.