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Commenting on today’s (Monday) Living Wage Foundation figures which show that over a fifth of workers (21.8%) in the South West are earning under the Real Living Wage (£9.30 per hour), TUC Regional Secretary for the South West Nigel Costley said:  

“People who work for a living ought to earn a decent living. 

“It’s not right that so many South West workers struggle to earn enough to cover basic living costs like food for their families, or money to pay the rent and bills. 

“And many of those struggling to get by will be the key workers getting us through this long crisis – such as carers, retail staff and delivery drivers.” 

The analysis shows there are some 492,000 workers across the South West earning below the Real Living Wage, up from last year’s figures of 479,000.  

In the South West, the Devon region  as well as the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire have been highlighted as parts of the country with huge proportions of low paid workers. 

Torridge, West Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge are all Devon local authorities in the top 25 worst areas with significant numbers of workers earning less than the Real Living Wage.  

Torridge in particular has the second highest proportion of workers earning below the living wage out of all local authorities in Britain, with a whopping 41.2% of workers paid less than £9.30 per hour. 

Nigel Costley adds:  

“The prime minister promised to ‘level up’ Britain - especially for our rural and coastal communities rife with low paid, insecure jobs. 

“Places like Devon and Cornwall are more than just a holiday destination for city-dwellers. They can be hives of economic activity that offer decent jobs in advanced engineering and green technologies, as well as our core industries in health, care, education and culture.

"But this all needs proper investment and attention from national government if local workers are to get a chance at earning a proper living. 

“If ministers truly want to build a better recovery, they must start by working with unions to ‘level up’ pay and conditions for workers in the South West.” 

Editors note
  • The ONS estimates that 20.3 per cent of all employee jobs in the UK (5.5 million jobs) were paid less than the Living Wage in April 2020, compared to 20.0 per cent (5.5 million jobs) in April 2019.  
  • In the South West 21.8% (492,000) of all workers earned below the Real Living Wage in April 2020, a rise of 2.7% (13,000 workers) from the previous year. The figures include workers who were furloughed and thus may have experienced a drop in their earnings if their employer did not top up the 80% maximum grant available from the government.  

Local authority 

Median wage 

Number of employee jobs below Living Wage (000s) 

Proportion of employee jobs below Living Wage  

(2) Torridge 




(10)  West Devon 




(21) Mid Devon 




(22) Forest of Dean 




(24) Teignbridge 




Notes: The above table is taken from the Living Wage Foundation’s 2020 report of the UK's top 25 local authorities with highest proportion of workers earning less than the real living wage; the local authorities included are those in the South West region. The ONS data for April 2020 is provisional. Data refers to jobs in workplaces located in the local authority, not employees who live in the local authority. Source: Living Wage Foundation 2020 analysis of ONS, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. 

  • The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.5 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. 
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