A FIFTH OF KEY WORKERS SAID THEY CUT BACK their spending at the end of the week or month during the pandemic, because they faced running out of money, or because they had already run out of money, according to polling carried out for the TUC by BritainThinks.

The survey shines a light on the financial hardship experienced by key workers during the pandemic:

  • Around one in nine (11 per cent) told the TUC that their levels of debt had increased since the pandemic began.
  • Around one in 17 (six per cent) said that they had taken on a second job to make ends meet.
  • One in 33 (three per cent) key workers said they had used food banks.
  • More than one in four (27 per cent) told the TUC that they don’t believe they receive a fair wage for the work that they do.

Analysis published by the TUC in July found that over a million children of key workers are currently living in poverty. The union body says the main reasons for key worker family poverty are low pay (one in three keyworkers earn less than £10 an hour) and insecure hours.

The TUC is calling on the government to urgently prioritise decent living standards for key workers in the forthcoming spending review by:

  • Raising the national minimum wage to £10 per hour immediately.
  • Ending the freeze on public service workers’ pay and give all public service workers a decent pay rise.
  • Funding the public sector so that all outsourced workers are paid at least the real Living Wage and get parity with directly employed staff.

The TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Our shop workers, care assistants and school support staff have worked tirelessly to keep this country going through the pandemic. The very least they deserve in return for their hard work is a decent standard of living for their families.

“But many are struggling just to pay their basic bills and put food on the table. And one in five are facing the trauma of running out of money before pay day. That’s not right.

“Enough is enough. Ministers must use the autumn spending review to give all of our key workers the pay rise they so badly need. We must get the minimum wage up to £10 an hour to stop millions of working people from living in poverty.”

The BritainThinks online survey was conducted in May 2021 with a sample of 2,134 workers in England and Wales – nationally representative according to the ONS Labour Force Survey.

* Source: Trades Union Congress