A DAMNING new report published yesterday reveals that the government’s attack on council workers’ wages is leaving hundreds of thousands reliant on benefits to live, even though they are working.
More than 11 per cent of the local government workforce are now dependent on working tax credits (WTC). So while Con-Dem cuts and pay freezes reduce the real value of local government workers’ wages, millions have to be spent by the taxpayer to enable them to survive.
The Unison-commissioned report, by Adam Tinson of the New Policy Institute, says that local government workers are suffering most. The proportion of local government workers receiving working tax credits — 11.2 per cent — is about two-and-a-half times higher than others in the public sector.
Local government staff make up 25 per cent of the public-sector workforce but account for half of WTC payouts in the sector.
Unison head of local government Heather Wakefield said: “This is a damning report that reveals just how far pay in local government has regressed. Successive years of pay freezes and paltry rises well below the level of inflation are creating an increasingly impoverished and demotivated workforce, with taxpayers forced to fund tax credits.
“Paying tax credits and other in-work benefits to local government workers on the lowest rates of pay is a completely false economy. A substantial increase to local government pay would recoup millions for the Treasury in lower spending on benefits and see more money pumped back into local economies.”
It comes as trade unionists are rallying to support TUC-organised Decent Jobs Week next week to put the spotlight on Britain’s growing number of workers in low-paid insecure employment.
The week of action comes as general union GMB yesterday revealed that the wages of security guards, shelf-fillers, hospital porters, kitchen and catering assistants, waiters, waitresses and bar staff are worth 12.6 per cent less than they were in 2007.
Events are planned across Britain to focus on millions of workers trapped in low-paid and insecure jobs. GMB said there are more than 1.4 million zero-hours contracts in use, offering no steady work.
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “It is the lowest paid who have been worst affected by the recession.”