As people gear up for the TUC backed ‘march for a future that works’, shock figures show working people in the South East are being forced to borrow £297 on average each month just to keep their heads above water.
The figures come from an independent survey commissioned by Britain’s largest union Unite, which is tracking thousands of working people’s lives through the economic crisis.
The survey, which comes ahead of the TUC march in London on October 20, also shows that in an attempt to ward off debt, a worrying 66 per cent of respondents in the South East have requested extra hours at work, only to have them turned down. At the same time, the findings show that nationally 65 per cent of households who rely on tax credits have recently seen them cut.
This toxic situation, of rising prices and falling incomes, is putting working people in an impossible situation - forcing growing numbers into the clutches of loan sharks.
The survey results not only highlight the desperate situation facing many families, but also shows money being sucked out of the South East economy, as the government’s austerity measures grip the region.
When asked about their monthly budget, 76 per cent of respondents said they have been cutting back on spending, hitting local shops and businesses.
People in the South East clearly feel the blame for their economic woes resides firmly in Westminster, with 63 per cent stating that the Government’s economic policies were directly harming them.
Unite is urging people to take a stand against Government austerity and join the ‘march for a future that works’ later this month.
John Rowse, Unite Regional Secretary in the South East, said: “These figures show the grim picture facing working people across the South East. Thousands are struggling with the impact of the cuts, a failing economy and rising prices.
“But rather than take the positive radical action necessary, this Government continues to stand on the sidelines and do nothing to help people through our dire economic situation.
“Some Government ministers have suggested the problem with our economy is that people aren’t working hard enough. Well this research shows employees are asking for extra work, but it’s not available, which demonstrates just how out of touch this Government is.
“The Government urgently needs to boost the economy by increasing the minimum wage by £1 an hour. We are also demanding that they introduce a cap on energy bills, to help workers with the rocketing cost of living.
“I see Unite members suffering on a daily basis, as wages stagnate and the threat of job losses loom large.
“The march will be a chance to send the Government a clear message - austerity isn’t working and we need an alternative that gets the economy growing. Unite will be laying on coaches for members and non-members, who just need to visit the Unite website for more information. If last year’s march is anything to go by, it will also be a fantastic day out for all the family. ”