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Underwhelming Budget does not do enough to help low paid workers and the troubled retail sector

Date: 30 October 2018 Usdaw submitted evidence in the budget process calling on the Government to provide an industrial strategy for retail, help low paid workers on insecure contracts, immediately halt the universal credit roll-out and fund the skills training workers need to deal with automation.
Usdaw General Secretary, Paddy Lillis says, “The Government has finally acknowledged the desperate need for action to help the struggling High Street, but the measures announced today fall far short of the full retail industrial strategy that we are seeking. The Government’s help for the high street must drive positive change across the entire sector, including larger retailers. This will only be delivered through engaging with both retailers and the workforce. I hope that the Government will involve Usdaw in the High Streets Task Force, to ensure that workers’ voices are heard.
 
“The announced increase to the National Living Wage from £7.83 to £8.21 is welcome but it is still below the real Living Wage rate and still only paid to workers aged 25 and over. Usdaw’s survey of over 10,500 workers found that low paid workers are struggling to pay gas and electricity bills, missing rent and mortgage payments, missing meals to pay essential bills and using food banks to feed themselves and their families.
 
“The Government’s tweaks to universal credit and extra investment don’t go far enough to mitigate the significant impact it will have on workers claiming in-work benefits. Without the fundamental issues being addressed, the Government should not continue with the roll-out of the programme.
 
“The Government also missed an opportunity to address the challenges automation will bring to the economy. There is an urgent need for the Government to invest in a skills infrastructure that will enable those workers whose jobs are under threat from new technology to take up the opportunities it creates.”
 
“We need to ensure that workers share in the future benefits of the economy. This will require workers having secure and stable employment, a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour from age 18, a proper contract that reflects the normal hours worked and enough hours every week to make a living. At the same time the needs of the workforce must be the primary consideration as we adopt new technology.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
Usdaw’s industrial strategy for retail: www.usdaw.org.uk/retailstrategy

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/newsand you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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