“We’re skint, we’ve got nothing spare. Everything is tighter,” are sadly familiar comments about PCS members’ pay because of the ongoing civil service pay cap. For Heart Unions Week we look at the reality of trying to get by for members in the Ministry of Defence.
PCS represents thousands of non-military staff working for the Ministry of Defence both in the UK and abroad. Despite the vital nature of their work, pay is a real issue with the civil service pay cap biting into take-home pay.
In January, members working for the MoD in Liverpool joined together for a photo opportunity, as part of our national payday protests, to reveal the total amount of money they have lost so far due to the pay cap: £1,308,993.60.
Members all had similar stories to tell about how they were feeling the pinch: everyday things such as shopping and household bills were all going up, but meanwhile their wages are going down in real terms.
One member said: “Everything is tighter. We do less with our children, less socialising, less going out. We’re skint, we’ve got nothing spare.”
Hannah, who has been working for the civil service for 40 years, has used our online pay calculator to work out that she has lost about £17,500 because of the pay cap. She said: “There’s too much month at the end of the money. I buy all my clothes from charity shops and can’t afford to go on holiday or meals out. I’ll be 60 next year and the pay cap has also meant 7 years of lower contributions to my pension.”
Patricia, who has lost about £5,000 from the pay cap, told us how she has been forced to extend the length of her mortgage to reduce the monthly payments.
Living in the now
Aileen, who has worked for the civil service for 30 years and has 2 children living at home, said that she has had to ask for help from her family.
“I shouldn’t have to do this, I’ve got my own home and family now and should be earning enough to be independent, not asking for hand-outs and loans. You get to the limit of what you can cut back on,” she said. “I’ve cancelled things like my boiler insurance but now I dread it breaking down because then I’d have to find the money from somewhere to get it fixed. I’m just living in the now and can’t plan for the future.”
Impact on mental health
There are long-term health implications because of the stresses caused by financial pressures. Another MOD member, based elsewhere in the country, told us:
“I used to have cash available each month, after paying my rent and bills, but each year there is less left over at the end of each month, sometimes nothing and I slip further into debt earlier and earlier. The stress this causes is hugely debilitating; my doctor diagnosed me with chronic depression and anxiety and I even attempted suicide at one point, when things really got bad, as I find it difficult to cope with even minor stresses now. I have been living with the physical consequences of that ever since and it still affects my ability to make it into work sometimes, even more so if I am experiencing low-mood. Of course, this has further repercussions for my pay and prospects at work. I have constant fear of losing my job if I cannot make it in.”
Use the PCS pay calculator to discover your losses and share it with the government.