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Teaching assistants and healthcare workers leaving for supermarket jobs

Healthcare workers, teaching assistants and paramedics are leaving their jobs to find better-paid roles in supermarkets, a trade union has warned.

UNISON chief Christina McAnea said a third of NHS employers are now providing foodbanks for staff as the one in a generation cost of living crisis squeezes UK households.

“Almost 30% of NHS employers now provide foodbanks for their staff, and another 20% are planning to set them up,” McAnea told the 'Committee Corridor', the podcast from select committees at the House of Commons.

The UNISON boss reported how more people in higher income brackets such as £30-40k are seeking assistance as the cost of living crisis bites deeper, adding that these were people the trade union would never have heard from before.


Read more: The UK areas worst affected by food crisis

McAnea called for such essential professions, including carers and special needs assistants to be better valued and recognised for their contribution to wider society.

This could include more structured career paths to improve retention and save employers the costs of recruiting and training in areas of high staff turnover.

Nurses have voted to strike in the majority of NHS employers in a row over pay, the Royal College of Nursing announced.

Industrial action is expected to begin before the end of this year and the RCN’s mandate to organise strikes runs until early May 2023, six months after members finished voting.

RCN General Secretary Pat Cullen said: “Anger has become action – our members are saying enough is enough. The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.

“Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this. While we plan our strike action, next week’s Budget is the UK Government’s opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment. Across the country, politicians have the power to stop this now and at any point.

“This action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses. Standards are falling too low and we have strong public backing for our campaign to raise them. This winter, we are asking the public to show nursing staff you are with us.”

Tory MP Greg Smith, a member of the Transport committee, used the podcast to highlight the struggle road hauliers face in the recruitment and retention of long-distance lorry drivers, with many leaving for better pay and hours driving supermarket HGVs.

He has also witnessed first-hand the lack of conditions in the roadside washing facilities these workers must use.

Read more: Lidl named cheapest UK supermarket

“We saw tiles falling off the walls. We saw mould. We saw taps that didn’t work. Changing areas that you really didn’t want to get changed in… we’ve got to up our game as a country on those roadside facilities.”

Education committee labour MP Ian Mearns said that while overall budgets for education had increased, per child financing had not kept up with inflation but that for teachers “pay is obviously the biggest concern.”

Watch: Cost of living: Household grocery bills 'rise by almost £40' in a month