photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection via photopin cc

One in five jobs in Britain pay less than the Living Wage, according to new figures.

Analysis from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) reveals that more than five million workers across Britain are paid less than the Living Wage – currently set at £9.15 in London and £7.85 across the rest of Britain.

The figures obtained from the House of Commons Library, suggest that millions of low-paid workers could be struggling to get by on less than the Living Wage, which is defined as a salary which is high enough to maintain a ‘normal standard of living’.

Birmingham Northfield is leading the way on low pay, with 53.4% of people working there earning less than £7.85 an hour. Kingswood near Bristol comes in a close second, with 51% earning less than the Living Wage. This is followed by Dwyfor Meirionnydd in north Wales at 50.9%.

Other areas include Harrow West in north-west London (48.9%), Chingford and Woodford Green in north-east London (48.3%), East Yorkshire (42.4 per cent), Blackpool South (42.1%), South East Cornwall (40.2%), Heywood and Middleton in Greater Manchester (39.8%) and Rhondda in south Wales (38.9%).

The figures throw into doubt Government claims that their policies are “making work pay”. Some experts claim moving off of benefits and into work is no longer a guaranteed route out of poverty.

Source: Trade Union Congress analysis.
Source: Trade Union Congress analysis.

According to the analysis, women appear to fare worse than men. For example: 63.1% of women working in Birmingham Northfield received take home pay which was less than the Living Wage. The figure falls slightly for Kingswood and East Yorkshire – 59.6% and 58.7% respectively.

Source: Trade Union Congress analysis.
Source: Trade Union Congress analysis.

Salaries in parts of the South East of England tend to be higher than the rest of Britain. This is almost certainly due to the higher cost of living. For example: only 7.5% of workers living in Limehouse, in East London, earned less than the Living Wage.

Other high-paying areas include Edinburgh South West, where only 7.9% earned less than the Living Wage, Guildford (8.4%), South Cambridgeshire (8.5%) and Runnymede and Weybridge in Surrey (8.9%).

Source: Trade Union Congress analysis.
Source: Trade Union Congress analysis.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Extending the living wage is a vital step towards tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across Britain.

“Working families have experienced the biggest squeeze on their living standards since Victorian times, and these living wage figures show that women are disproportionately affected.

“Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom, and the government’s mantra about ‘making work pay’ is completely out of touch with reality.

“The number of living wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are playing their part in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it.

“But we need to see a far wider commitment to pay the living wage from government, employers and modern wages councils – to drive up productivity and set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more.”

A spokesperson for the Business Department said: “The Government is committed to improving living standards – particularly for the lowest paid through preventing exploitation, reducing taxes for the lowest paid and increasing employment.

“We therefore support businesses that choose to pay the Living Wage, however only when it is affordable and not at the expense of jobs.”

Cricket star Stuart Broad caused a Twitter storm last month, after suggesting than workers on the National Minimum Wage, currently set at £6.50 per hour for people aged 21 and over, should stay humble.

He tweeted: “I’ve heard if you earn minimum wage in England you’re in the top 10% earners in the World. #stay #humble”.

Twitter users responded angrily, with one tweeting: “Your basic salary this year is 44 times what someone in UK earns working full-time on minimum wage”.

Another tweeted: “What a ridiculous tweet. Way that up with how much it costs to live in this country and it’s a daily struggle for lots of us!”

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