For many PCS members, along with many monthly salaried workers it is now payday.

With the costs of living rises far outpacing salary increases many find themselves wondering how all bills will be paid. Just today, for example, I was talking to one colleague whose gas/electricity bills had tripled over recent months.

There is talk about government action but this is largely empty. For most PCS members salaries have either been frozen or severely restrained continuously for over a decade (since 2010) and, after 98% of members voting signalled a willingness to take industrial action, the union has formally entered into a dispute with the government and, following its conference next month, is likely to begin a strike ballot. It will not be alone as many unions have similar discussions in their sectors.

The cost of living crisis, while not new, has undoubtedly climbed up the political agenda as those adversely affected increasingly number middle class workers within their number and, therefore, the issue has much more political capital to it.

It is in this context of an already recognised pressure on workers nationally that the decision in the budget to immediately impose a 1.25% increase on National Insurance contributions beginning in April 2022 (and so one first seen in this month’s payslips) seems a remarkable one. While it is true that from 6 July 2022 the base income at which a person needs to pay National Insurance contributions will increase from the current £9,880 to £12,570 a year (meaning contributions will reduce from that date) the result of the decision is that most union members will find the net salary they receive until then will reduce – not the most welcome news when people are already financially on the edge!

Even though I am not a union rep any longer I have already had union members asking me about why their pay is less this month and whether the employer has made mistakes. Which brings me to the point of this post – it is likely union members will be approaching their reps over the next few weeks or months about concerns the employer has made extra deductions from their wages or salaries. If they do then it is worth checking the issue is not just a failure to appreciate how Rishi Sunak’s decision to increase NI from April onwards affects them personally.