David Cameron and George Osborne’s cost of living crisis is strangling households, according to an independent survey showing a drop in disposable income of £129 a month since May this year.
The survey, involving 3,940 Unite members working across the economy, underlines how the much heralded ‘recovery’ is passing ordinary working people by, with two thirds (66 per cent) reporting a drop in their disposable income over the last six months.
Health workers have experienced the biggest fall in spending power, with a massive £233 drop, as government pay cuts and rising costs eat into family budgets.
Women have been hit hardest by the cost of living crisis suffering an average drop of £190 month, nearly double the average for men of £95.
Rising food, soaring energy and housing costs are hitting people’s pockets as the government does nothing to cut fuel bills. More than half (53 per cent) of all respondents reported that the biggest increase in the price of essentials was on food, while a quarter said it was energy costs.
The survey also found that 62 per cent experienced hikes in their rents while one in four home owners said they were struggling with mortgage payments; neither group is helped in any way by the government’s controversial ‘Help to Buy’ scheme.
Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey said: “An economic recovery may be enjoyed within the super-wealthy circles in which the Prime Minister moves, but it is passing ordinary people by. Back in the real world there is a cost of living crisis strangling the finances of households across the nation.
“While the rich get richer, ordinary people face soaring costs and dropping incomes. With winter ahead, our most vulnerable people will face the hideous dilemma of whether to heat or eat.
“Now David Cameron has pledged that austerity is here to stay. He is laying siege to the living standards of the people who will be keeping the NHS going this winter and, if you are woman, you face double the squeeze.
“This country is being walked into widespread impoverishment. Relief could be easily provided – like a cap on energy prices and a boost to the minimum wage to put money in people’s pockets – but we cannot expect this government to provide it.
“They are 100 per cent to blame for cost of living crisis sweeping households across Britain and we will not let them forget this.”
The survey identified a shift away from established supermarkets as workers sought cheaper food, and revealed the growing use of pay day loans to bridge the point in the month when wages ran out.
In a bid to take on the payday lenders, Unite has launched a new credit union for its members, promising to save borrowers hundreds of pounds on the cost of a payday loan.
The new service is open to all Unite members in England, Scotland and Wales offering low cost borrowing, access to instant access savings accounts, and more affordable loan opportunities.
“We are determined to wipe out rip-off payday lenders and ensure that they can’t make profits by exploiting victims of the financial downturn,” said McCluskey. “Unite’s new credit union service ensures our members can access finance without fear and helps keep them out of the clutches of parasitic lenders.”
Unite members can find out more by calling 0333 0110 450 or visiting unitetheunion.org/CreditUnion.