Retail trade union Usdaw is shocked that the Government claims they “understand how the rising cost of living is making life harder for people” yet in today’s Queen’s Speech they have only promised to “continue to keep the situation under review”.

Usdaw’s cost of living survey of over 6,500 workers lays bare the scale of the difficulties many working people are experiencing. Key findings are:

  1. Two-thirds have relied on borrowing to pay their everyday bills, with around half of them struggling with repayments.
  2. 82% of working parents feel worse off now than they did last year, more than a quarter of all parents have missed meals in the last year to pay bills.
  3. Two-thirds are significantly cutting down on heating in order to cope. Shockingly, a quarter will no longer use the heating at all.

The full report is available at:

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Today’s Queen’s Speech was a crucial opportunity for the Government to demonstrate they understand the depth of the cost of living crisis now impacting far too many working people. So we are shocked that they have decided to stand back and watch workers struggle to make ends meet in what they call a continuing review.

“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.

“The Government has so far not delivered anywhere near enough to help workers who are facing poverty as a result of their cost of living crisis. We need them to agree a windfall tax on oil and gas producers, a reduction in VAT and a review of Universal Credit. 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.”

Usdaw is calling for:

  1. A windfall tax on the huge profits of North Sea oil and gas producers, to protect the most vulnerable.
  2. A reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT) from 20% to 17.5%.
  3. An urgent and fundamental overhaul of Universal Credit, which includes significant investment, to ensure it provides a social security benefit that more consistently supports workers in low-paid employment.
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