A SLIGHT drop in inflation provides nothing but a “cruel illusion” for millions of struggling families, trade unions said yesterday.
Official stats show that the consumer price index was at 2.6 per cent last month, down from a near four-year high of 2.9 per cent in May.
The drop in the index was largely driven by falling fuel costs, as well as a small reduction in computer game prices. But food recorded smaller falls for June when compared to the same month a year ago.
Total pay in real terms sank by 0.7 per cent in the three months to May in contrast to last year, according to figures published last week.
TUC leader Frances O’Grady said: “The government must stop this cost-ofliving squeeze. Many working people are caught in a vice as rising prices crush their pay.
“Ministers claim they are listening to struggling families. But now is the time to prove it. Britain needs a pay rise across the public and private sectors.”
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “This slight fall in inflation is a cruel illusion that will be snatched at by desperate Cabinet ministers trying to paint that everything is rosy with the British economy.
“Families are struggling to keep their heads above water, as the pound in their pocket shrinks when it comes to buying food, keeping up with mortgage and rental payments and paying ever-increasing utility bills.”
Meanwhile ministers continued to face pressure to ditch the 1 per cent public-sector pay rise cap — which has led to huge drops in real-terms earnings and driven nurses to foodbanks.
Unison’s Christina McAnea warned: “With inflation much higher than wages, nurses, teaching assistants and care staff are getting poorer.
“The government’s harsh approach to public-sector pay is completely out of step with the public mood.”
Judges and senior civil servants were also given a paltry 1 per cent rise yesterday, with the independent Senior Salaries Review Body warning that the cap was causing “frustration and demotivation” among the public-sector top brass.
First Division Association, representing senior civil servants, assistant general secretary Naomi Cooke warned: “The current government pay policy is failing.”