Low paid local government workers are worse off now than they were in 2010 thanks to benefit changes and pay freezes, a study has found.
A combination of welfare reforms and below inflation pay increases have reduced disposable income and resulted in low paid local government workers being worse off than they were three years ago, according to a report from the National Policy Institute.
As many as 315,000 local government workers earning less than the Living Wage – £7.45 per hour – have been affected by welfare reforms.
Unison’s head of local government, Heather Wakefield, called on both councils and the Government to implement a ‘significant rise in pay levels’ and face the problem ‘on their own doorstep’.
Findings from the report suggest an immediate pay rise to the level of a Living Wage in 2013 would not be enough to lift recipients out of low pay.
Unison said that alongside three years of local government pay freezes, the ‘measly’ 1% pay rise and removal of the bottom pay point this year have failed to come near the level of inflation.
Those earning less than the Chancellor’s ‘low pay’ threshold of £21,000 also missed out on the Government’s promised £250 in 2011 and 2012, the union added.
Wakefield said: ‘This is a very sorry story for the lowest paid local government workers who usually need benefits and tax credits to keep their families out of poverty.
‘Three years of pay freezes coupled with changes to in-work benefits is a double whammy causing workers to move backwards instead of forward.
‘Cuts to local government funding, alongside cuts to pay and in-work benefits, will continue to make matters worse for ordinary hard working families. We need a significant rise in pay levels to recognise our members’ vital contribution to local services, boost consumer confidence and help revive the economy.’