Coalition cuts spending; families cut food, healthcare, kids clothing…

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis reports on new research revealing families are cutting back on food, healthcare and kids clothes due to government cuts.

Piggy bank

Dave Prentis is the General Secretary of UNISON, Britain’s biggest public sector trade union with more than 1.3 million members

The struggle that families of public sector workers face has been laid bare by new research carried out by unions UNISON and PCS. A third of the 10,000 union members surveyed already have non-secured debts of more than £10,000 – a frightening level that does not include mortgage payments.

Tough choices are on the menu at the supermarket – 71% are cutting back on food, 33% are sacrificing vital healthcare, including trips to the dentist, and 22% are spending less on their children’s footwear and clothes.

Once parents start to cut back on their children, you know they have reached, or are very close to rock-bottom.

It’s misery for families, but it is also bad news for local shops and restaurants, hairdressers, pubs and takeaways – who all depend on local people spending to survive. It’s no wonder the growth forecasts have been revised down – far from coming to our economy’s rescue, the private sector is suffering too.

The survey also brought into question the long-term viability of public sector pension schemes. We already know that public sector workers are struggling to make ends meet, but now the government has put up the cost of their pensions. Together with the double whammy of high inflation and frozen pay – a 50 per cent hike in pension contributions will hurt.

Almost a quarter of respondents said they would definitely, or probably, leave the scheme if contributions went up. This would push more public sector workers onto state benefits when they retire and put the schemes’ future in jeopardy. Again, this would mean bad news for the private sector – billions are invested in top FTSE companies by the local government pension scheme.

The toll that reckless Tory cuts – dished out by a cabinet of millionaires – are inflicting on our economy and our society, just keeps on mounting.

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