“How is someone working full time, a single person with no dependents, having to claim universal credit? Their income should suffice.”
“A lot of people claiming universal credit won’t think that people on the other end of the phone might be claiming it.
They added: “There’s an irony in that I’m dishing out the benefit that I’m claiming.”
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Civil servants’ pay rises were capped at 3 per cent this year, with most receiving a 2 per cent raise, despite surging inflation. The PCS research found that 8 per cent are using food banks and one in three have skipped meals because they have no food.
The Big Issue has teamed up with Gordon Brown as the former prime minister calls on the government to take urgent action to prevent a “poverty time bomb” going off in October.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “PCS members worked tirelessly during the pandemic to keep the country running, paying out benefits to almost two and a half million families, helping them to put food on their table and keep a roof over their head.
“But now they’re struggling to put food on their own tables as the cost-of-living crisis hits home.
Boris Johnson announced in May that he planned to cut 91,000 civil service jobs to save the government money, claiming this could be achieved without harming major frontline services.
Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss then announced that if she were PM she would change the rate of civil servants’ pay to match it more closely to local rates, which would have seen many government employees outside of London and the south east receive a pay cut. She quickly U-turned on the policy after outcry across the political spectrum.
Commenting on the Conservative leadership race, Serotka said that civil servants were being treated as “political pawns used by politicians”.
“As the Conservative leadership contenders squabble over what tax cuts to make, the same civil servants who will be asked to deliver their policies are being cast adrift,” Serotka added.
“They must be given an above-inflation pay rise to help them with the rising costs of food and fuel.”
A government spokesperson said: “We recognise the pressures families across the country are facing due to rising prices caused by global challenges. That’s why we have continually taken action to help households by phasing in £37billion worth of support throughout the year.
“This package will see millions of the most vulnerable households receive at least £1,200 of support in total this year to help with the cost of living, with all domestic electricity customers receiving at least £400 to help with their bills.
“We are also providing public sector workers with the highest uplifts in nearly twenty years, targeted towards the lowest paid – with civil servants receiving a pay rise in the next year.
“The public rightly expect that taxpayer-funded services are delivered as effectively as possible and existing backlogs cleared. Ministers and the Cabinet Secretary have been clear about the benefits of face to face, collaborative working, to civil servants and all taxpayers alike.”