One in three civil servants have skipped meals to save money as a result of the cost-of-living crisis, a union has claimed.
A survey of more than 12,000 members of the PCS public service union found that 9 per cent had claimed benefits and 8 per cent used food banks to get by as inflation soars.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said that after helping to get the country through the Covid pandemic, civil servants were now being “cast adrift” with a below-inflation pay offer.
A framework for 2022/23 pay awards issued by the government in March said departments would be permitted to offer pay awards of 2 per cent on average, with flexibility for an additional 1 per cent to deliver long-term workforce priorities.
The deal comes at a time when the Bank of England expects inflation to top 13 per cent before the end of the year.
The PCS survey found that 85 per cent of those questioned say the cost-of-living crisis is having a detrimental effect on their physical or mental health or both.
Some 35 per cent said they had skipped meals and 40 per cent had taken out a loan or used credit to pay for essential shopping.
Although some top Whitehall mandarins command six-figure salaries, the median civil service wage is around £30,000, leaving the majority exposed to the impact of rising inflation.
Almost one in five (18 per cent) said they had missed work because they could not afford to pay for transport, and more than half (51 per cent) said they were worried about being able to keep up rent or mortgage payments on their homes.
More than one-third (38 per cent) were looking for work outside the civil service and 13 per cent said they had already taken on additional work to supplement their salaries.
A quarter (25 per cent) said they dread the return to school after the summer because of the cost of new uniforms and equipment and 16 per cent were worried about keeping children fed during the holidays.
Mr Serwotka said: “PCS members worked tirelessly during the pandemic to keep the country running, paying out benefits to almost two and a half million families, helping them to put food on their table and keep a roof over their head.
“But now they’re struggling to put food on their own tables as the cost-of-living crisis hits home.
“As the Conservative leadership contenders squabble over what tax cuts to make, the same civil servants who will be asked to deliver their policies are being cast adrift.
“They must be treated with respect, not as political pawns used by politicians. And they must be given an above-inflation pay rise to help them with the rising costs of food and fuel.”
With morale inside the civil service at rock bottom after ministers ordered 91,000 job cuts, the PCS is expected to ballot members on possible strike action next month.