More children of public sector workers pushed into poverty, says TUC

By Agencies
February 16, 2018

One in seven children (550,000) with a parent working in the public sector will be living in poverty by the end of this financial year, according to new TUC analysis.

The research shows that since 2010, an extra 150,000 children have been pushed below the breadline as a result of the government’s public sector pay restrictions and in-work benefit cuts.

The analysis shows:  

  • One in seven children (550,000) living with a public sector worker in their family will be below the poverty line this April – an increase of 40 per cent since 2010. 
  • Families where both parents work in the public sector are the biggest losers from the government’s pay restrictions and benefit changes. Their average household income will be down around £83 a week in real terms by April 2018.
  • Households where one parent works in the public sector and another works in the private sector will lose on average £53 a week.
  • The South West (up 55 per cent) has seen the biggest increase in child poverty rates among families with a public sector worker in England. It is followed by the North West (up 51 per cent) and East Midlands (up 50 per cent).

Separate TUC analysis shows that holding down public servants’ pay reduced spending power by £8.5 billion in England alone last year.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said, “The government's pay restrictions and in-work benefit cuts are causing needless hardship.

“Public servants shouldn’t have to worry about feeding or clothing their kids. But many are struggling to afford even the basics. Ministers must give public sector workers the pay rise they have earned. If they don't more families will fall into poverty.”

The public sector pay analysis is modelled on real wages falling by 13.3 per cent between 2010 and 2018 for workers in health and education. And by 14.3 per cent for workers in public administration.

The analysis includes all tax and social security measures introduced under the 2010-15 coalition government and subsequent conservative governments, including Universal Credit.

Commenting on the analysis, UNISON Assistant General Secretary Christina McAnea said, “Poor pay has left many public sector families desperately watching the pennies.

“A career helping and caring for others was never going to make millionaires of NHS, school and council staff, but none of them would have expected to be so hard up after years of public service, and for their children to be the ones that suffer.

“A society that values its public services must extend that worth to the workforce too. It’s time ministers paid up and lifted thousands of children above the breadline.”

* TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

* UNISON https://www.unison.org.uk/

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