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With RPI at 9% Usdaw calls on the Chancellor to take immediate steps to tackle the cost of living crisis

Date: 22 April 2022 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling on the Government to immediately take the following three key measures to tackle the cost of living crisis:
  • Increase all social security payments by at least the rate of inflation, along with an urgent and fundamental overhaul of Universal Credit to provide social security that properly supports claimants.
  • A windfall tax on the profits of North Sea oil and gas producers to fund removing Value Added Tax (VAT) on domestic energy bills, along with expanding and increasing the warm homes discount.
  • Reduce the headline rate of VAT to 17.5%. 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Despite working hard to provide for their families, many low-paid workers in Britain are struggling to make ends meet. The situation is being made significantly worse as a result of historically high rises to food and energy prices and the below inflation increase to Universal Credit and other welfare payments.
“There is a clear need for Government intervention to support people claiming in-work welfare payments and we call for, as a matter of urgency, an increase to all social security payments by at least the level of inflation. This should be followed by an urgent and fundamental overhaul of Universal Credit to ensure it provides a social security benefit that supports claimants.
“However, the cost of living crisis is clearly affecting all low paid workers, not just those in receipt of in-work welfare payments. Too many are struggling to pay their energy bills and it is clear that the Government can take action to tackle this through a windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers.
“Also, to ensure that any action delivers the greatest benefit for those most in need, Usdaw is calling for the Government to reduce VAT to 17.5%. VAT is generally accepted to be a regressive tax, so a reduction in the rate is needed to look after the interests of low income households.
“I’m afraid the Government has so far not done what workers need in the face of the cost of living crisis. If they don’t take the action we are calling for, the Government will have simply failed to understand the scale of the challenge faced by millions of workers across the country.”

Usdaw also calls on the Government to introduce an Employment Bill to ensure that work pays through tackling the endemic low pay and insecure work problem we have in this country. This should include a New Deal for Workers based on:
  • A minimum wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers immediately, ending rip-off youth rates.
  • Minimum 16 hour contracts, for everyone who wants one, based on an individual's normal hours of work and a ban on zero hours contracts.
  • Statutory Sick Pay for all workers from day one of absence and based on their normal rate of pay. 
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
RPI v CPI: Usdaw argues that the Retail Prices Index (RPI) is a better measure of inflationary pressure on low-paid workers because it includes housing costs, like mortgage interest and buildings insurance, along with essentials such as Council Tax, Road Tax and TV Licence. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) includes some items of no relevance to low-paid workers, such as stockbroker fees and boat maintenance costs. This month RPI is 9% and CPI is 7%.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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