School holiday hunger, how will you cope?

12 Feb 2020

It's the half-term holidays for many schools next week, leaving large number of parents who work in the civil service worrying how they’ll manage without school meals and breakfast clubs. And we want you to tell us your experience.

As we launch our new national campaign on pay, pensions and redundancy terms, the school holidays are yet another example of how our members, and many public sector workers, are struggling with poverty wages following years of pay restraint. Their struggle underlines the need to get involved in the PCS campaign.

A recent survey of public sector workers showed that about 10% of civil servants and tens of thousands of outsourced staff working for central government departments are paid less than the cost of living. Data from think tank the Smith Institute put together for charity the Living Wage Foundation revealed that 1.2 million public sector workers across the UK earn less than its “real living wage”, based on the real cost of living, which is currently £9.30 an hour outside London and £10.75 in the capital.

A National Education Union snapshot poll of 1,026 teachers in England painted a harrowing picture of the increase in poverty seen in our schools and the daily impact it is having on children and young people with 46% of teachers confirming that holiday hunger has got worse compared to three years ago.

Impact of Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is also causing thousands of children to go hungry, according to a recent survey by Unite.

79% of parents in the survey of more than 1,000 UC claimants said they found it hard to make ends meet during the school holidays. Many had been put into debt, forced to rely on foodbanks or the help of friends and family because of the benefit system.

We have had serious concerns from the outset about the development, implementation and effect of UC. Our members are on the front line, and are suffering as a result of the government’s chaotic welfare ‘reforms’, staff cuts and office closure programme. Our members see first-hand the devastating effect government policies have on the most vulnerable in our society, yet their voices and concerns are too often ignored by the Tory government.

We believe that UC needs to be scrapped and replaced in favour of a more humane system which emphasizes support not sanctions. We have called for the ending of the punitive sanctions regime and the scrapping of work capability assessments.

Tell us your experiences of holiday hunger, email editor@pcs.org.uk

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