Austerity hitting public service workers

Public service workers face pay freezes and redundancy threats caused by austerity measures, according to a new report. The result is worsening personal finances, rising debt and cuts in spending on essential items.

Researchers from the Working Lives Research Institute carried out a survey of over 1,000 UNISON members, combining it with a number of face-to-face interviews. UNISON represents over 1.3 million members working in the public services or for linked private contractors.

Key survey findings

  • 73 per cent of UNISON members received no pay increase in the latest round.
  • 25 per cent have experienced a redundancy situation in the last year, including having to apply for their own jobs.
  • 28 per cent are working longer hours than contracted.
  • 47 per cent say their household income has gone down. 1 in 4 say their financial situation is in ‘difficulty’ or that they are ‘struggling to survive’.
  • 77 per cent are worried about their finances, particularly over the threat of redundancies.
  • 22 per cent report personal debts of £10,000 or more. 27 per cent have increased their credit card borrowing and 1 in 10 have been forced to borrow money from friends or family.
  • 73 per cent have cut spending on food and 20 per cent have cut spending on items for their children.
  • In those households in receipt of benefits, nearly 1 in 5 have lost their tax credit.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 has lost out as a result of the abolition of the educational maintenance allowance.

Source: Leena Kumarappan, Sonia McKay and Sian Moore, The Impact of Austerity on UNISON Members 2012, UNISON

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