COUNCIL workers will be unable to make ends meet under a current pay deal, a union has said.

The GMB heard how 98 per cent of members who are council workers or school support staff in south east England will need “more than last year’s pay offer” to maintain their current standard of living.

1,700 members were asked whether they would require an increase of their current deal, as one person branded last year’s pay rise “inadequate” and “insulting”.

More than 70 per cent of respondents said that an offer of a “below-inflation” pay rise would be unacceptable to them this year, and that many members “hardly noticed” this year’s 1.75 per increase, given April’s national Insurance hike.

Katie Feigan, GMB Southern Region schools lead, said: “School support staff are a dedicated group of workers who have shown up throughout the pandemic providing an education service for vulnerable children and pupils who are children of key workers.

“Many of them want additional hours but school budgets do not allow for them.

“Many are also the primary carers for children and so additional hours would cost them more in childcare.

The Argus: Staff say they require a greater pay rise to stay financially afloatStaff say they require a greater pay rise to stay financially afloat

“School support staff deserve a real-terms pay rise this year and the employer and government must take note: this workforce is struggling to survive and pay their bills. Something needs to change.”

Council workers and state school support staff in Brighton and Hove are employed through the city council, but their wages are determined by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services.

Pay increases come into force of April each year.

One teaching assistant in the south east, who did not want to be named said: “I work way above my contracted hours of 29 hours per week.

“I have given up asking for an increase in my hours as there is never the budget; I regularly submit overtime sheets and do all the lunch duties available to boost my paltry monthly wage.

“I can no longer financially exist on these inadequate, insulting and non-existent pay increases - or lack of.”

Responding to calls for a greater pay rise for workers, a spokeswoman for East Sussex County Council said: “We have applied the national pay award arrangements and therefore we will be guided by the agreements reached through the national negotiations.”

In a recent statement concerning council workers on the lowest pay brackets, Brighton and Hove City Council recently issued a statement, saying: "Since an agreement in October 2021 to abolish the council’s lowest pay scales (one - two) further discussions and collaborative work has taken place with both GMB and UNISON trade unions to see what more could be done to increase the salaries of the council’s lowest paid staff.

"As a result of collaborative and constructive discussions with the trade unions, a formal improved pay proposal was put forward to them last week. 

"The detail needs to be worked through with trade union colleagues, but one change being made means full time staff currently paid on scale one/two will receive a pay increase of at least £1,180 per year. The increase will be pro-rata for those that work part-time. 

"The overall package of changes being considered will benefit 3,800 staff of which 2,500 are within schools.

"Once agreement with GMB and UNISON is reached, the council would seek to implement the changes and backdate them to 1 April 2022.

"Meetings with both unions to discuss the offer are due to take place."