Public sector workers 'increasingly using pay day loans'


Public sector workers are increasingly turning to pay day loans to make ends meet following the Brexit squeeze on the cost of living.

A new poll by loans broker revealed that 43% of visitors to its website had already taken five or more pay day loans out in the past year alone, as they grapple with a sharp rise in everyday prices and slowing wage growth.

Of those in employment seeking a loan, the highest number (27%) work within the public sector in jobs such as nursing, teaching and local councils.

The figures further highlight the pressure on the "just-about-managing", after official data this week showed the squeeze on wages has intensified.

Average wages grew by just 2.1% in the year to April, down by 0.2% on the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Pay growth is now falling well behind inflation, which rose again to 2.9% in May, its highest rate in four years.

The collapse in sterling since last year's vote to leave the EU has sent import costs and shop prices soaring, hammering consumers.

Meanwhile, an uncertain economic and political climate means employers are holding back on increasing pay, tightening the squeeze on households' living standards.

In real terms, average pay was higher in January 2006 than it is now, according to ONS analysis.

Stephanie Cole, operations manager at Readies, said pay day loans are now "part and parcel of some people's' lives", as households find themselves under increasing strain.

"The pay squeeze, particularly on public sector workers, will only serve to increase the number of people turning to pay day loans who are already struggling with rising fuel, food and transport costs," she said. 

The Government has capped annual public sector pay rises at 1% until 2020. Labour's General Election manifesto had pledged to end the cap.

Union leaders have stepped up calls for the cap to be lifted, warning that it is hurting workers' pockets and leaving millions unable to make ends meet.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "Public sector workers have not had a proper pay rise since 2011. It is no wonder they feel so undervalued. The public sector pay cap must go."

Unions are also pushing for a 5% pay increase for 1.6 million local government workers in schools and councils, saying they want to narrow the gap between declining wages and the rising cost of living.

The GMB, Unison and Unite warned that the living standards of council and school employees have "plummeted", following eight years of government-imposed pay restraint.

Unison's head of local government, Heather Wakefield, said: "Theresa May needs to show the country she's listening to the concerns of ordinary people by coming up with the cash to give dedicated public service workers a long overdue, decent pay rise."

Of all those seeking a pay day loan, 24% stated the money would be used towards unexpected bills as they had insufficient savings, whilst 18% sought additional funds to pay off an existing pay day loan.

Fifteen per cent need money to help with their mortgage or rent, while the balance of requests were to help with other bills and activities.

The survey polled 8,000 people who visited last month, seeking short term lending.