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Staff providing public services have cut back on groceries, borrow money from friends or family and even go without meals to feed their children in the last year, according to a survey.
The survey by UNISON is based on responses from more than 6,500 employees including paramedics, teaching assistants, council workers and police staff across the UK.
It shows that more than three quarters (77 per cent) have cut back on food shopping in the last year and more than half (52 per cent) have borrowed money from family and friends.
Others (16 per cent) have resorted to using debt advice services or applied for payday loans (7 per cent), while one in ten (11 per cent) have missed meals to feed their children.
Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) said they didn’t know what they would do if they had an unexpected expense such as their car or boiler packing up, and a fifth (21 per cent) said they would have to make do without.
Four in ten said they cannot afford to put any money away each month (41 per cent) and more than a quarter (29 per cent) regularly spend more than they earn. More than a quarter (27 per cent) are currently looking for a better paid job because they cannot afford to live on their current salary.
The report also reveals that 110 people surveyed are turning to food banks for help.
Yesterday UNISON’s leader Dave Prentis signed a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May urging her to remove the public sector pay cap.
He said: “Seven long years ago nurses, school meals staff, social workers, PCSOs and other public service employees were told to tighten their belts as the government said it had to freeze and squeeze their wages to pay down the deficit.
“As a result public sector workers have seen their incomes fall drastically in real terms, and with inflation on the rise this means real financial hardship. A modern caring society should not allow those who look after people when they’re ill, help educate our children or keep the public safe on the streets to be treated in this shoddy way.”