More than a third of Hartlepool workers do not earn enough to live on, according to new research.
Figures from the TUC show 34.7 per cent of people in the town are paid less than the living wage – defined as the minimum hourly rate needed for workers to provide for themselves and their family.
And Hartlepool is the worst place in the region for the number of women earning less than the living wage, with 46.7 per cent of female workers taking home less than the minimum £7.85 an hour.
TUC analysis shows nationally one in five jobs nationwide pays under the living wage – leaving more than five million people on less than subsistence pay.
In the North East, the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency tops the list of living wage blackspots, followed by Hartlepool, Berwick, Newcastle North and North West Durham.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said:
“In-work poverty is getting worse and it is proof the economy might well work for millionaires at the top, but does nothing to help people on low pay.”
Mr Wright raised the issue of pay inequality in a Commons debate last week in his role as Shadow Minister for Industry, and referred to Hartlepool.
“Almost a quarter of North East workers and nearly half of all part-time staff are not being paid a living wage,” he told MPs.
“It is striking that the people most likely to be in poverty in Britain in the 21st Century are those in work. No-one can honestly suggest that the economy is working well or as productively as it could be when that is the case.
“This country will not achieve our vision of a highly-skilled, well-paid and innovative work force, ensuring that the benefits of economic growth are enjoyed by all in work, if we continue down the present path.
“The taxpayer is having to subsidise, through tax credits and other parts of the welfare state, the failure of many firms to pay a decent wage.”
Hartlepool Citizens’ Advice Bureau manager Joe Michna said the centre was dealing with the consequences of low wages.
“These figures come as no surprise,” he said.
“Certainly a large number of our clients, particularly those struggling with their daily needs, would be below what is defined as the living wage.
“We get a lot of people who are on the minimum wage and others who are just above it.”
Northern TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat said:
“These figures show that huge numbers of working people in the North East are struggling to bring home a wage they can live off.
“Extending the living wage is a vital step towards tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty in parts of the North East – and Britain as a whole.
“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.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 23 Feb 2015
Hartlepool has the region’s highest proportion of women working part-time and earning less than the living wage according to the data provided by the TUC.
More than half of town women – 55.9 per cent – are paid below the living wage, analysis of figures from the House of Commons Library show.
And TUC officials say for every pound earned by men full-time, women working part-time earn just 66p.
The union says one of the main reasons for this huge gender pay divide is the large concentration of women doing low-paid, part-time work.
The living wage – the pay rate needed to let workers lead a decent life – is currently set at £7.65 an hour.
The national mininum wage is lower, at £6.31 an hour.
The town fares the worst out of the whole of the North East for ensuring fair pay for females.
Pamela Hargreaves, chair of the Hartlepool branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:
“I think from a small business perspective, while all the businesses I’m sure would dearly love to be able to pay the living wage, because it’s the right and proper thing to do, potentially it can put quite a strain on their finances in this difficult economic climate.
“I think as the economy picks up and businesses begin to thrive again, I think it’s certainly an aspiration all businesses should aim to do.
“But from a social perspective, absolutely all employers should be striving to pay the living wage.
“I also know from running a charity, Hartlepool Families First, whilst it’s an aspiration it can be difficult to achieve it.”
North Tyneside has the region’s lowest proportion of women working part-time for less than the living wage at 37.9 per cent.
Nationally, Watford has the lowest proportion, with 16.9 per cent.
Union officials say the situation in North Tyneside shows what can be done when unions, employers and campaigners work together to tackle low pay.
Ms Hargreaves, also a town councillor, addded:
“What Hartlepool needs to do is examine why it has the highest proportion in the region.
“If North Tyneside has a model that’s working, we as a town should be looking at the model and adopting some of those practices so we can make a dent in those figures.
“It’s clearly across the board, from women director level to part-time roles – women don’t seem to be treated fairly and valued as much as male counterparts.”
The TUC wants to see more employers paying the living wage, to help tackle “in-work poverty” and close the gender pay gap.
It believes local authorities should lead by example by becoming living wage employers themselves.
Last September, Hartlepool Borough Council became a Living Wage authority which meant 405 council employees saw their pay rise from £6.45 to £7.26 an hour.
Authority chiefs are also encouraging firms that have contracts with the council to folllow suit.
The union also wants to see more jobs advertised on a part-time basis, ending the requirement that women have to be in post for six months before they have the right to request flexible working.
TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat said: “In-work poverty is growing across the North East and it’s often women who bear the brunt of low pay.
“The living wage was created so that work can provide staff with a basic standard of living.
“But in places like Hartlepool, the majority of women working part-time are earning nowhere near this.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 29 Aug 2014
Living wage campaigners have hit out after it emerged a third of people in some North East towns are not earning to enough to get by.
Unions, politicians and even the new Bishop of Durham have called for more firms to take up the Living Wage, currently set at £8.80 in London and £7.65 across the rest of the UK.
Just 20 North East firms pay the higher than minimum wage to their lowest paid staff, a move the unions say has to change.
Latest figures show more than one in five people receiving less than the living wage, with some parts of the region faring much worse.
Darlington tops the region’s blackspots with 37.6% of people paid less than the living wage, with Blaydon at 34.2% and Berwick 31.7%.
Northern TUC boss Beth Farhat said the unions were looking to see more support for their pay battle: “Extending the living wage is a vital way of tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across Britain.
“Working families are experiencing the biggest pressure on their living standards since Victorian times. Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom and it’s costing our economy dear.
“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 Government must show equal initiative.
“We need to see a far greater commitment to pay the living wage from Government and employers, and modern wages councils which could set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more. During Fair Pay Fortnight we’re asking workers to back our call to MPs to get all political parties to put decent pay at the top of their agendas in the run up to the election.”
The TUC campaign is today backed by Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, who said: “The Living Wage is good for everyone: good for the employee and their family – they have enough to live on; good for the employer in recruitment, retention and morale of their staff; good for us all.
“The Living Wage makes sense for everyone. It makes sense economically, socially, morally and spiritually. It helps us all build better lives and a better society.”
Union research suggested that for working women the picture is even bleaker.
The campaign has been backed by Hexham’s Conservative MP Guy Opperman, who has said he supports the need for firms to voluntarily take on the wage increase.
He said: “I have long been a supporter of the Living Wage. The campaign has really taken off in London and the South East, but what I hope to do today is to bring the campaign right here to the North East.
“I understand the concerns that business has, but I really want to explain the benefits it can bring. As many people will be aware, I am a huge advocate of the regional banking system we see in Germany. There are lots of things we can learn from our Germanic neighbours, especially around productivity.
> Is this guy (sic) really a Tory ? He won’t get far with opinions like those.
“Paying the Living Wage can have a hugely positive impact on things like productivity, quality of work, reduced absenteeism and retention of talented staff.
“In a recent independent study 84% of businesses believed paying the living wage led to increased productivity.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 01 April 2014
An extremely interesting article originating from Durham University…
In this post, Lynne Friedliand Robert Stearnlook at the role of psychological coercion, notably through the imposition of positive affect, in UK Government workfare programmes. There has been little or no debate about the recruitment of psychology/psychologists into monitoring, modifying and/or punishing people who claim social security benefits. This silence raises important ethical questions, including about the relationship of psychology to the medical humanities.
Whistle while you work (for nothing): positive affect as coercive strategy
– the case of workfare 
The growth and influence of discourses of positive affect in systems of governance and ‘technologies of the self’ has been widely observed. ‘Strengths based discourse’ is a significant policy imperative in health and welfare reform and underpins ‘the application of behavioural science and psychology to public policy’ via the UK government’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) or ‘nudge unit’. Positive affect plays an important supporting…
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