As almost a quarter of a million civil and public servants prepare to strike today (Wednesday, October 15), new cost of living figures reveal the real effect of pay cuts, the Public and Commercial Services union says.
A new measure called the ‘Real Britain Index or RBI’ shows the poorest in society are hit hardest by the spiralling cost of food, clothing, energy and housing.
It also reveals civil servants on median pay face a true inflation rate of 2.36%, while the government’s preferred consumer prices index was at 1.2% for September.
The strike could affect Jobcentres and Benefits Offices; Tax and Tax Credit offices and enquiry centres; Passport offices; National Museums and Galleries; Magistrates’, Crown and County Courts; Ports and Airports in immigration, passport controls and Customs; Driving Examiners; the Land Registry.
The latest official civil service statistics, published by the Office for National Statistics last week, show the large number of civil servants in lower to middle ranking executive officer posts have received only a 2.05% rise since March 2010.
Publication for the first time of the RBI, devised by the New Economics Foundation, comes after Monday’s NHS strike and ahead of the civil service walkout today (Wednesday, October 15) and the TUC’s Britain Needs a Pay Rise demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Belfast on Saturday, October 18.
The action puts pay in the spotlight, with wages frozen for two years after 2010 and subsequently capped at 1%.
Since 2010, taking into account pay cuts, the increase in monthly pension contributions and the cost of living, many civil servants will have suffered a 20% cut in their incomes by next year, the union says.
Unlike CPI and the retail price index, the RBI takes account of the fact those on different incomes spend their money differently, with poorer households spending proportionately more on essential items.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These figures prove what people in low paid households already know, that the real cost of living is soaring while wages are being cut year after year.
“Our action this week demands an end to these cuts that are slashing the public servants’ living standards at the same time as millionaires are handed tax cuts and tens of billions of pounds is stolen from our public finances every year through tax evasion.”
The union’s members work for Central Government Departments and Agencies, and other areas of the public sector.