Issue date
01 Apr 2014

date: 28 March 2014

embargo: 00.01hrs Tuesday 1 April 2014

A third of jobs pay less than the living wage in parts of the South East

In some parts of the South East a third of jobs (34.5 per cent) are paying less than the living wage, the TUC reveals today (Tuesday) to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the minimum wage and the second week of the TUC’s Fair Pay Fortnight which runs until Sunday (6 April).

TUC analysis of official figures from the House of Commons Library shows that nationally on average one in five jobs pays under the living wage – currently set at £8.80 in London and £7.65 across the rest of the UK – but in some parliamentary constituencies many more people working there earn less than this.

Across the UK, around five million people get paid less than the living wage. Bexhill and Battle tops the list of living wage black spots in the South East, with 34.5 per cent of the jobs based there paying less than the living wage. This is followed by Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (32.6 per cent), Hastings and Rye (29 per cent), South Thanet (29 per cent) and North Thanet (27.7 per cent).

For working women the picture is even more bleak. In Bexhill and Battle getting on for half (43.7 per cent) of jobs pay less than the living wage, followed by Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (34.4 per cent), Eastbourne (34.2 per cent), Sittingbourne and Sheppey (34 per cent) and South Thanet (33.8 per cent).

At the other end of the income scale, in some parts of the South East workers fare much better. Just 5.8 per cent of jobs in Runnymede and Weybridge pay less than the living wage, followed by Guildford (9.2 per cent), Oxford East (9.3 per cent), Mole Valley (9.6 per cent) and Milton Keynes South (9.9 per cent).

Southern and Eastern Region TUC Regional Secretary Megan Dobney said: “Extending the living wage is a vital way of tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across the South East – and Britain as a whole.

“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.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Top five South East living wage blackspots (men and women)

Parliamentary constituency

Percentage of people working there paid less than the living wage

1

Bexhill and Battle

34.5

2

Bognor Regis and Littlehampton

32.6

3

Hastings and Rye

29.0

4

South Thanet

29.0

5

North Thanet

27.7

Top five South East living wage brightspots (men and women)

Parliamentary constituency

Percentage of people working there paid less than the living wage

1

Runnymede and Weybridge

5.8

2

Guildford

9.2

3

Oxford East

9.3

4

Mole Valley

9.6

5

Milton Keynes South

9.9

Top five South East living wage blackspots (women)

Parliamentary constituency

Percentage of women working there paid less than the living wage

1

Bexhill and Battle

43.7

2

Bognor Regis and Littlehampton

34.4

3

Eastbourne

34.2

4

Sittingbourne and Sheppey

34.0

5

South Thanet

33.8

Top five South East living wage brightspots (women)

Parliamentary constituency

Percentage of women working there paid less than the living wage

1

Oxford East

10.0

2

Guildford

11.4

3

Milton Keynes South

12.3

4

Southampton

13.7

5

Winchester

13.9

House of Commons Library figures, based on data from the Office for National Statistics

- The full analysis of who is paid under the living wage by constituency and local authority is available at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/House%20of%20Commons%20LW%20data.xlsx

- The TUC is organising Fair Pay Fortnight from Monday 24 March to Sunday 6 April. It will be a series of events across England and Wales to raise awareness about falling living standards. www.fairpayfortnight.org

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews

Contacts:

Media enquiries:
Laurie Heselden    T: 020 7467 1292    M:  07818 002877    E: lheselden@tuc.org.uk