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This election is the most important in a generation for working families, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady will say as she takes part in trade union campaigning in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough on Thursday (28 November). 

TUC analysis shows that:

  • The average worker in the region is £6,400 worse off today than they would be had wages kept pace with inflation since 2008.
  • Within Hartlepool 28% of workers are earning below the Living Wage foundation rates, this is above the regional average of 22%.
  • 29% of children in Hartlepool are living in poverty, increasing to 36% after housing costs.
  • 32% of children in Middlesbrough are living in poverty, rising to 39% after housing costs – placing it among the 20 worst local authorities for child poverty.
  • Councils in the North East are spending £750m a year less on key services than in 2010 – the biggest reduction of any UK region.

The TUC is calling on all parties to put working families first. 

They must:  

  • Get wages rising faster for everyone - not just the boardroom 
  • Ban zero-hours contracts and guarantee everyone the security at work we need  
  • Rebuild our NHS and the public services we all rely on - don't cut taxes for the rich 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Working people have had enough. Whatever our background, we all deserve decent jobs and public services so we can take proper care of our families.

“But the North East has borne the brunt of a decade of Conservative cuts.

“Public services are crumbling. Wages have stood still, but the cost of living keeps going up. And too often the only jobs available are insecure and low paid.

”We want better. So let’s use our votes to fix Britain and make politicians put working-class families first.”

Editors note

Real wage losses: cumulative real wage loss is calculated using data from the 1997-2019 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). The analysis uses median weekly earnings excluding overtime, and calculates real earnings using April 2019 prices, as this is when ASHE data is collected. For each year since 2008, the real pay gap between the year and 2008 is found. The sum of these gaps for the years 2009 from 2019 gives us a cumulative figure, which is multiplied by 52 to give an annual figure.

To compare, we did the same calculations for the 11 years previous: 1997-2008. This is the same methodology but using 1997 as the start year. Wages grew strongly and consistently across this 11-year period. By 2008, the median employee in the North East was £21,838 better off than they would have been if real wages stayed at 1997 levels.

Living wage statistics: taken from Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) by local authority, UK, April 2018 and April 2019. Full data set can be found here:

These figures are taken from the 2019 local authority data (table 7.1a 2019)

The real Living Wage rate is independently set. New rates were announced this week, with the rate of £9.30 for UK workers outside of London. This is paid to employees of organisations who have accredited to the Living Wage Foundation. Further information can be found here

Child poverty statistics: taken from End Child Poverty figures released May 2019. Full data set can be found here:

Council spending cuts: a full list of all local authorities in England is available here:


  • These figures are based on net total expenditure outturn for 353 local authorities in England, provided in the Local authority revenue expenditure and financing: England figures for 2010/11 and 2018/19 provided by MHCLG.
  • This covers all Non-Metropolitan County Councils, Metropolitan Borough Councils, Unitary Authorities, London Boroughs and District Councils in England. Spending figures for 2010/11 have been adjusted to 2018/19 prices based on CPI.
  • It is understood that in certain specific cases there may be variance in the totals shown or the methods of recording figures between individual local authorities and the figures collated by MHCLG. These figures are taken from those presented in MHCLG data sets.
  • We have focused only on expenditure related to core local government services and those services that are comparable over the given period – we have therefore excluded education, early years, public health and police and fire services as well as spend on benefits.
  • We include spending on highways and transport, children and adults social care, housing, culture, environment, planning and central services. In addition to net total expenditure we have added NHS cash transfers to local authority social care budgets, for example through the Better Care Fund in 2018/19 and through the Valuing People Now programme in 2010/11.
  • The figures in 2018/19 relate to local authorities as they were constituted in that year.
  • LGA estimates about cuts to local government funding are at:

About the TUC: the Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.6 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.


TUC press office
020 7467 1248

Beth Farhat (NE Regional Secretary)
0191 2275550
07747 636408

Tim Nichols
020 7467 1388
07808 761844

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin
020 7467 1288
07771 713574

Alex Rossiter
020 7467 1285

07887 572130

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