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
Almost a quarter of workers in the North East aren’t paid enough to live on, a new study reveals.
The report by the Living Wage Commission says that the employment market is “polarising” with high paid and low paid jobs both increasing – while the number of middle income jobs shrinks.
But workers on lower salaries have suffered, seeing their wages fall in real terms since 2005, the report says, while the cost of necessities such as food and fuel have shot up much faster than the official rate of inflation, leaving many working people struggling to make ends meet.
The grim warning was presented by the Living Wage Commission, an independent body chaired by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, and backed by the TUC, chambers of commerce and voluntary groups.
It is campaigning for every worker to be paid the “living wage”, a sum calculated to be the minimum needed to ensure a basic but acceptable standard of living. The 2014 rate is £7.65, or £8.80 in London.
In a new report called Working for Poverty, the Commission said there were 221,000 workers in the North East earning less than the living wage, or 23% of those in work.
This is the same proportion as in the North West and West Midlands, while the figure for Yorkshire and Humber is slightly higher at 24%.
But by contrast, just 18% of South East workers earn below the living wage, and the figure in London is 17% even though the living wage is higher.
Newcastle City Council was the first local authority in the country to introduce a living wage, ensuring no staff were paid below the sum, and others, such as Northumberland, have followed suit. Labour leader Ed Miliband backs the living wage while leading Conservative supporters of the policy include Hexham MP Guy Opperman.
But Dr Sentamu said more employers should adopt the policy, and he argued that paying higher wages would save the Treasury money because it would cut the benefits bill.
He said: “For the first time, the majority of people in poverty are actually in paid employment. The nature of poverty in Britain is changing. The idea of ‘making work pay’ increasingly sounds like an empty slogan to the millions of people who are hard-pressed and working hard, often in two or three jobs, and struggling to make a living.
“Meanwhile, the whole of the UK picks up the bill in tax credits, in-work benefits and decreased demand in the economy.”
Dr Sentamu added: “We know that not every employer could afford to implement a living wage right now. Yet we also know there are definitely employers that are able to pay a living wage but choose not to.”
The jobs where you are most likely to be paid below the living wage are barman or waiter. According to the report, 85% of people in these roles are underpaid.
Other jobs with a high proportion of workers below the living wage include catering assistant, vehicle cleaner, dry cleaning assistant, shop assistant, cleaner, hairdresser and florist.
Nationwide, 27% of female employees nationwide are paid below the living wage, compared to 16 per cent of men.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Low pay is blighting the prospects of millions of workers, and we need urgent action to tackle the low-pay problem.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 11 Feb 2014
A study by a campaigning group called Home Truths reports that a housing shortage and stagnant wages are forcing increasing numbers of those in work to apply for help with housing costs in order to keep a roof over their heads.
The North East has seen a 108% rise, since 2009, in those in work who are claiming housing benefit, and also the smallest increase nationally in new business start-ups.
Private rents and house prices are projected to rise by 25% and 17% respectively by 2020.
Monica Burns, North East external affairs manager for the National Housing Federation – “We hear a lot about ‘making work pay’, but employment opportunities are scarce in parts of the North East and wages are lower than in other parts of the country.
“This is having a knock-on impact on people in work, with more and more hard working families being forced to rely on housing benefit to help pay for the roof over their heads.”
Of course, we still get idiots suggesting that we should have lower regional wages. But then, those idiots are usually (a) Tories, who know they’re never going to be in power here, (b) in London or the South East, and (c) never likely to be in a position to have to accept lower regional wages themselves…more’s the pity.