Essential workers thousand of pounds worse off than a decade ago, TUC says

Nurses, care home staff and police officers have had real pay cuts since 2010 as wages lag behind prices

Last modified on Wed 22 Dec 2021 19.03 EST

Nurses, care home staff and police officers working on Christmas Day will be thousands of pounds worse off than they were a decade ago as a result of wages failing to keep pace with prices, Trades Union Congress analysis has shown.

Urging the government to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour, the TUC said the key workers expected to keep Britain going on 25 December had taken real pay cuts since 2010.

Police sergeants and constables have had the biggest reduction, with inflation-adjusted pay £5,595 a year lower than a decade ago. Nurses have had an effective wage cut of £2,715 and local authority care workers a cut of £1,661, the report found. A chef would be earning £1,050 more a year this Christmas had pay kept pace with price rises, while a waiter would be £859 better off, the TUC said.

The coming year is expected to bring a fresh squeeze on living standards. Annual inflation is running at 5.1% and expected by the Bank of England to peak at about 6% in the spring. Meanwhile, earnings including bonuses in the three months to October were up 4.9% on the same period in 2020.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, said: “Many of the key workers who are bracing themselves for another surge of Covid cases are earning less in real terms than they were a decade ago. That is not right.

“While many of us are tucking into the turkey, thousands of key workers will be hard at work on the front line, many of them dealing with staff shortages as a result of the Omicron variant. But their pay awards are falling way short of what they should be, especially in a cost-of-living crisis.

“The pandemic must be a turning point; 2022 should be the year that the government finally gets wages rising across the UK. They can start by giving our public service workers a proper pay rise, and by raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour.”

The national minimum wage is £8.91 an hour and will rise to £9.50 an hour in April.

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