Retail trade union Usdaw has branded today’s Spring Statement as a missed opportunity to help low paid workers cope with the cost of living crisis, as the Retail Price Index (RPI) tops 8%, the highest it’s been in over 30 years.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Today was an opportunity to deliver the Prime Minister’s promise to ‘build back better’, but regrettably the Chancellor stuck to ‘business as usual’. As the cost of living crisis rages, with RPI reaching yet another 30-year high, today’s measures which included a 5p cut to fuel duty, the possibility of cutting the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 19p (in two-years’ time) and raising the threshold for the amount people earn before they pay national insurance to £12,570, are simply not enough.

“Too many workers are struggling to make ends meet in low-paid insecure employment and are desperate for substantial help from the Government. Usdaw had called for a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers, along with an end to precarious short-hours and zero-hours contracts, but the Government is simply not listening.

“The Chancellor remained silent on Universal Credit and as things stand, claimants will only get a 3.1% increase when inflation is over 8% – a big cut in income for the lowest paid workers. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned that if the benefit increase stays as it is, nine million low-income households will be impacted – to the tune of £500 a year.

“I’m afraid the Government has today not done what workers need in the face of the cost of living crisis. The Government has simply failed to understand the scale of the challenge faced by millions of workers across the country.”

Usdaw’s New Deal for Workers calls for:

  1. A minimum wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers immediately, ending rip-off youth rates and providing a living wage.
  2. Minimum contract of 16 hours per week, for everyone who wants it, that reflects normal hours worked and a ban on zero-hour contracts.
  3. Better sick pay for all workers, from day one, at average earnings.
  4. Protection at work – respect for shopworkers, abuse is not a part of the job.
  5. A proper social security system, Universal Credit does not provide a safety net.
  6. Job security, with day one employment rights for unfair dismissal and redundancy.
  7. Fair treatment and equality for all workers, including equal pay.
  8. A voice at work, stop rogue employers refusing to engage with trade unions and end ‘fire and rehire’.
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