Key workers face rising prices and taxes and pay cuts - Ros Snowdon

Key workers are getting a rough deal right now. Shop workers are facing awful harassment whilst the GMB Union says rocketing inflation figures show the Government is taking food from the mouths of carers, NHS workers, school staff and council workers.

Frontline workers are credited with doing an amazing job during the pandemic
Frontline workers are credited with doing an amazing job during the pandemic

Key workers also face a double whammy as the £20 increase in Universal Credit comes to an end next month whilst from next April, when national insurance contributions are hiked, they will have to pay to ensure wealthy pensioners hold onto their wealth whilst landlords won’t pay a penny more, but their key worker tenants will.

The days when the Government urged us all to clap for carers seems long gone.

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Key workers face a tsunami of bad news.

UK inflation has surged to a near decade high after rising at the fastest pace on record last month as the cost of food and eating out soared.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation jumped from 2 per cent in July to 3.2 per cent in August – the highest since March 2012.

The ONS said August’s rise is set to be temporary, but experts have forecast inflation will hit 4 per cent – or higher – by the end of this year as the economy bounces back from the pandemic.

The official data showed inflation surging across many areas of the economy, with used car and fuel prices rising while food costs have also spiked amid the supply chain crisis.

Amid global supply chain woes and the UK’s lorry driver shortage, the ONS said manufacturers are seeing huge cost rises for raw materials, with input and output – or factory gate – prices rising at the fastest rates for a decade. There are fears these will be passed on to consumers over time.

This week, Kantar said that inflation is starting to hit the supermarket sector, with grocery prices rising 1.3 per cent in the past four weeks compared with a year ago. Prices are going up at a time when workers can least afford it.

Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary, said: “The cost of food, of rent, of basic day to day living is the highest it’s been for 10 years.

“Yet the Government persists with pushing forward a real terms pay cut for public sector workers.”

This week, the Yorkshire Post revealed that shop workers in Yorkshire have been subjected to “horrifying” levels of abuse during the pandemic.

One Sheffield checkout operator had a full basket of shopping thrown at her for asking a customer to respect social distancing rules.

Details have been revealed following a public consultation carried out by Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake, who has introduced a Ten-Minute Rule Bill in Parliament which calls for the verbal or physical abuse of any frontline worker to be made into a criminal offence.

Ms Blake conducted a survey of frontline workers in Sheffield after an attack on an Asda worker and national studies which showed almost nine in 10 retail workers were verbally abused last year, with nine per cent being physically assaulted.

Ms Blake said: “I have been horrified by the stories people have shared with me over the past year. I have heard from shop assistants, bus drivers, NHS staff, receptionists and care workers, who have been sworn at, spat at, pushed, had trolleys rammed into them or full baskets of shopping thrown at them - all whilst trying to do their job.”

On top of the list of worries, the furlough scheme will be coming to an end soon.

A new survey of over 900 UK full time workers found nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of employees are concerned about their job security as the furlough scheme tapers and this figure rises to 33 per cent among those aged 18 to 34.

The Government needs to take these concerns on board. Many younger employees and key workers feel that their legitimate worries about how they will feed their families amid this tide of taxes and cuts are being ignored.

Meanwhile it appears that the richest in society and wealthy pensioners will get away without paying their fair share to society.

It will come as a surprise to no-one that these two wealthy groups are traditional Tory voters.