More than half a million public sector worker children to be ‘in poverty’

15 Feb 18

Public sector pay restrictions will force 150,000 extra children into poverty by the end of this financial year, according to the Trade Union Congress.

One in seven children (550,000) whose parents work in the public sector will be living in poverty by April, according to research by the federation of trade unions in England and Wales released today.

This represents a 40% increase from 2010, according to the research by TUC in conjunction with consultancy firm Landman Economics.

Researchers looked at real wages falling by 13.3% between 2010 and 2018 for health and education workers, and 14.3%  for public administration workers.

Christina McAnea, Unison assistant general secretary, said: “Poor pay has left many public sector families watching the pennies.

“A career helping and caring for others was never going to make millionaires of NHS, school and council staff, but none of them would have expected to be so hard up after years of public service, and for their children to be the ones that suffer.”

The TUC analysis showed that families where both parents work in the public sector are set to have their weekly average income reduced by £83 in real terms by April 2018.  

Households with one parent employed by the state will lose an average of £53 weekly, the TUC found.

McAnea said: “It’s time ministers paid up and lifted thousands of children above the breadline.”

Of all the regions in the UK, the Scotland was the worst affected by increased child poverty rates, with 60% of children there expected be in poverty by April 2018.

Scotland was closely followed in increased child poverty by the South West with a rise of 55% and the West Midlands at 54%, according to the TUC.

In all, the total number of public sector worker children in poverty is expected to reach a total of 550,000 by the end of the financial year.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government’s pay restrictions and in-work benefit cuts are causing spending hardship.

“Ministers must give public sector workers the pay rise they have earned. If they don’t more families will fall into poverty.”

Public sector pay was frozen for two years in 2010, except for those earning less than £21,000 a year, and since 2013, rises have been capped at 1% - below the rate of inflation.

Local government employers issue a 2% pay offer for each of next two years in December last year and in September last year the cabinet agreed to give prison prison officers a 1.7% rise while police will get a 1% pay rise plus a 1% bonus for the year. 

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has also said the NHS pay cap will be lifted

Landman Economics uses a tax-benefit economic modelling similar to that of the Treasury. 

The measure of an individual ‘in poverty’ was if their household income was less than 60% of median income.

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