Work isn’t paying, leaving millions facing painful choices this Christmas, warns Unite

Work for increasing numbers of people doesn’t pay, leaving millions facing painful choices this Christmas, Britain’s largest union, Unite, warned today (Wednesday 13 December) as labour market figures showed no let-up in the squeeze in living standards.

With wages continuing to fall behind the rise in prices and changes to tax credits and other in work benefits reducing the incomes of many of those on low incomes, Unite warned that increasing numbers of people would be forced to choose between heating or eating this Christmas.

Today’s official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show average earnings increasing by 2.5 per cent, while the retail price index measure of inflation runs at 3.9 per cent.

The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said that the UK now has the highest rate of inflation among the developed economies.

Commenting, Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, said: “Lower unemployment is welcome, but under this government it is no longer a guarantee that it will lead to improved living standards and higher pay.

“For too many people work simply doesn’t pay enough to meet the bare essentials, leaving families across the UK facing painful choices this Christmas.

“The continued squeeze in living standards, combined with changes and freezes to in work benefits like tax credits are forcing people into destitution.

“One in eight workers is now forced to eke out a living in poverty.

“We need no back-slapping from ministers, but real action to boost incomes, to rid the economy of exploitative insecure work such as bogus self-employment and zero hours contracts and to put money in the pockets of hard-up public sector workers.”