One in four retail workers are skipping meals every month to pay bills, according to USDAW research.

The number is up from one in twenty in February 2021, and one in seven in February 2022, the retail trade union’s latest cost of living survey revealed.

USDAW said this “clearly demonstrates the very real consequences on low-paid key workers of rocketing prices, energy bills and fuel costs”.

Speaking in Parliament Square at a TUC rally, Jane Jones - USDAW president criticised the government for not supporting those working in the sector. “We work hard, we show up every day and do the jobs that keep the country running. We deserve respect, but this Government laughed at us when they partied through the pandemic and now they are now telling us that we are the ones who will have to pay for the pandemic.

“One-in-four of the people working hard to keep food on Britain’s tables are struggling to put food on their own table. Instead of tackling this, the government is hamstrung by infighting, sullied by scandal, doing nothing other than trying to save themselves. While they play politics rather than governing, our communities pay the price.”

Jones called for more pay for retail staff. “We need a pay rise and a new deal that gives every worker decent pay and secure hours. A new deal that transforms our social security system into a proper safety net. A new deal where working people can thrive, rather than struggling to survive.

“We cannot accept that workers are condemned to live on poverty pay; that they are not even guaranteed the working hours they need to get by from one week to the next. Shopworkers, distribution workers, manufacturing workers, in constituency after constituency are watching. We need action and we need action now.”