The rising tide: UNISON cost of living special

What are the root causes of the cost of living crisis? What is the human impact? And how can we start to find a way out? UNISON investigates

“I don’t sleep very well anymore. You’ll be there at three o’clock in the morning, which is always the ‘dark time’ – even when I’m on shift, that’s the hard time. And it’s scary. You sit there and think, ‘If I lose this job tomorrow, I’d probably lose the house within two months. It would be that quick.

Pat Jones is a care worker for people with learning disabilities, branch secretary of Ymlaen/Forward branch and, somehow, still an optimist. Two months ago, the driveshaft on her car broke and it wiped out her savings. Pat was just relieved that she had a friend of a friend who could do the repair job cheaply for her.

Now, her daughter – a single mother and also a care worker – and two grandsons are due to move back in with her, because her daughter’s home became too costly to repair and she will have to sell it.

For the next 12 months, at least, Pat’s home office will be her grandsons’ bedroom. Her daughter will take her room, and Pat will be on the sofa, with her two dogs and two cats. Pat is just pleased that she’s been able to help her daughter and save her from getting into debt.

The rising cost of living has been a creeping issue for some time now, felt by most in terms of pennies in the pound. A single below-inflation pay deal could be critical for some, placing their finances on a knife-edge. But now, after a decade of inflation outstripping public sector pay deals, with the price of an average shopping basket rising at unprecedented rates, households facing the heaviest tax burden in the UK since the 1940s, and one of the worst energy and gas price surges in living memory – now, the cost of living ‘issue’ is a full-blown national crisis.

Simply put, this is a critical, make-or-break period for millions of people in this country.

In the features below, UNISON investigates the different aspects of the biggest economical crisis in a generation. 

4 thoughts on “The rising tide: UNISON cost of living special

  1. Jackie says:

    Thinking of her and her family mental health issues are going to sky rocket putting more strain on the NHS it’s going to be awful for so many I myself live in one bedroom flat private rent with NHDC and work for them seven years ago split from my partner of 18 years the money I got from it has virtually gone over 55 I was told then as I have no dependants I don’t qualify to be housed and I still cannot apply I’ve lost 5 friends and three family members since October 2021 and work full time and do as much overtime as I can just so I can eat also work in care supported living adults with LD in October this year bills going up again so scared I only have me to worry about and it’s effecting my MH

  2. Rob says:

    I thought the crisis was something that would happen but I wouldn’t notice the effect of it. As it stands I’m about 2 months away from having to cancel my Unison subscription, may sound silly but nearly all the other non-necessities are gone. More rises planned in the autumn too, Unison do a lot but it doesn’t seem to be working.

  3. Wendy Parrott says:

    In Social Care we have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, social workers and community care officers have gone the extra mile and some. However there was little of no mention of this in the media.
    So here we are coming out of the pandemic, we are facing huge increase in demand, fewer resources due to services pulling out and staff leaving in their droves. Never before have I seen staff leaving in such numbers.
    Part of the reason is, we feel under valued by the government, we feel our bank of good will is empty and due to the current economic climate rise in fuel costs we are penalised by departments not reviewing the mileage rates, Th e government not reviewing the tax allowance for working from home.
    We have staff going to food banks to feed their children so that thy can put petrol in their cars to attend work and complete the endless visits across the county.
    Hey…we did get 1.5% pay rise, you dont need to be a mathematician to work out we are moving further and further into poverty while working for the public sector and maybe just maybe the government may look at this. However, social care are the poor relation and do not get the media attention others are privileged with.
    This could be why we have a nation shortage on qualified social workers, something need to give before the service implodes.
    revewing irm

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