Ahead of the march for the alternative, set to see thousands throng the capital to protest against the government cuts, the country’s biggest union reveals that many people in the UK are now “surviving, not living”.
An independent poll tracked the concerns of 140,000 working people over four months from December 2010 until the early hours of Thursday morning (24 March). According to Unite, while the responses show expected fears over council, education and health service cuts, they reveal that many people’s major worry is their diminishing ability to simply make ends meet.
Family life is becoming especially hard, the poll revealed, and those with young children and a mortgage to pay are being hardest hit by job cuts and service reductions.
Unite accused the coalition government of failing the future of the country, saying the picture emerging is one of “bleak Britain”.
Tens of thousands of responses were analysed by independent polling company Mass1 which reported that the five concerns for workers are:
- money worries, with many reporting a real struggle to make ends meet
- job fears, with private sector workers beginning to lose their jobs and an increase in outsourcing; families with young children and single parents are prominent within this group
- council service cuts generally: middle-aged couples on low incomes are especially hit by council cuts
- NHS services, largely around problems getting treatment as a result of cuts: younger couples, single people and more affluent parents are prominent within this group
- education worries, with class sizes, nursery places and teaching staff reductions all concerns.
Len McCluskey, Unite’s general secretary, said: “In bleak Britain it seems the way to survive is do not live outside the wealthy parts of the country, do not rely on public services, make sure you have plenty of money – and absolutely do not have a family.
“People are surviving, not living. Services are disappearing. Queues are growing for medical treatment, and once again parents are worrying about class sizes. These are issues we thought that we had put behind us. Families are being failed and benefit changes in April will tighten the screw further still. An interest rate rise in the summer will push the many just managing to keep their head above the water under and into desperate circumstances.
“George Osborne may want to emulate Nigel Lawson but as yet another generation of Britons finds life under a Conservative government a real struggle, these are retreads this country can well do without.
“This Saturday the capital will shake with the call for change. The government must listen and change tack. If they do not, then they – both parties – deserve the unpopularity and condemnation coming their way.”
The union also says that regional trends are emerging with
- health cuts hitting hardest in London and Yorkshire
- council cuts hitting hardest in Yorkshire and the North West
- jobs fears strongest in Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London, and
- outsourcing of jobs and services on the rise.
The poll is based on the 160,000 responses from some 143,000 people spread across the population centres of the UK. The trends have emerged during a polling exercise that began in December 2010, with the most recent poll taken on Tuesday 22 March 2011.
Thousands of Unite members from across the UK are expected to join the March for the Alternative in London on Saturday 26 March – details here.