More than 2,300 workers took part in a study which found nearly half had to borrow money to make ends meet in the past six months and many are reducing their needs.
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Almost half of workers have had to borrow money from banks, payday lenders or family and friends to make ends meet in the past six months, according to a new study.
A survey of more than 2,300 workers also showed that only one in three said they could afford basic necessities, while nearly two-thirds said rising energy costs forced them to spend less for basic foodstuffs or other essentials.
GMB union members who took part in the survey said they could not afford to turn on the heating and feed their families, and some said they only ate every other day.
GMB general secretary Gary Smith, speaking at the union’s annual conference in Harrogate, said: ‘We are facing the perfect storm of falling wages as prices soar. It is a disaster for the workers.
“People are suffering and this government is doing nothing.
“The spike in energy prices was terribly predictable. Instead of blaming low-paid workers for demanding a pay rise, ministers need to pull themselves together and make the important decisions that can help stabilize prices in the future, such as on new nuclear generation and gas storage.
“In the meantime, there is a strong case for wage support for some of the lowest paid workers.”
One person, a paramedic, who took part in the investigation said: “I can’t afford to turn on the heating and feed a family of six. It has to be one or the other. Years without a pay rise are starting to bite.”
And there were many other similar comments.
A school support worker said: “We are not living, we are treading water. This government needs to give me a break,” while an airport firefighter replied, “I have two jobs, my partner has two jobs and we are still struggling to afford basic necessities like food, gas and electricity.”
While one NHS worker simply said, “I can’t afford to live, I feel depressed.”
A lorry driver also said it affected his mental health.
“As a 43-year-old married man and father of three young children, I feel really depressed as we grapple with rising food and energy bills. I am extremely worried for the months ahead as our wages are at breaking point,” he said.
And one person, who works as an administrator, said: “It’s so hard to save money for our wedding. I actually told my partner that I wish we hadn’t fixed the date and paid the deposit at our venue. I wouldn’t have booked my wedding if I had known our bills were going to go up.”