The scale of the wages crisis facing British workers has been laid bare with one in eight skipping meals to get by, according to a new mega poll.
A decade on from the financial crash, the TUC/GQR survey paints reveals the stark choices ordinary UK workers face to make their pay packet stretch.
People are choosing to switch off the heating in cold weather while others go hungry at mealtimes to save cash.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady called for an urgent end to the public sector pay cap and said many jobs in 2017 were “not even covering the basics for many”.
The poll of more than 3,200 people across the UK showed:
One in four could not pay an unexpected £500 bill. Of those that could pay, one in five said they would be forced to go into debt or sell something.
One in six switched off the heating, even though it was cold, to save money on their energy bill.
Almost half (44%) were worried about meeting basic household expenses such as food and transport.
One in six has pawned something in the last year because they were short of money
A third (36%) think cost of living pressures are getting worse.
Research conducted by the TUC earlier this year showed pay packets in the UK have been shrinking, while across Europe they have begun to grow.
And unions fear stagnating pay is forcing people into ever-higher levels of personal debt. Unsecured debt per household was £13,200 in 2016 – the highest figure since the crash and is on course to exceed £15,000 before 2022.
O’Grady said: “When you come home from a long day at work, you shouldn’t have to worry whether you can afford to eat. Having a job should provide you with a decent life, but it’s not even covering the basics for many.
“Ten years on from the crash, working families are on a financial cliff edge. Pay packets are worth less and less, but bills keep rising, and personal debt is at crisis levels.
“The government’s inaction must not last. Ministers can raise wages by scrapping public sector pay restrictions, investing to create great jobs across the country, and increasing the minimum wage.”