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• Figures reveal the scale of poverty pay in the South West
• TUC calls on political parties to focus on tackling in-work poverty

One in five jobs in the South West region are paid below the real living wage, according to new government figures shared by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). 

The figures show 482,000 jobs are estimated to be earning below the real living wage, almost 20.4% of all jobs in the region, higher than the UK average.

The real living wage rate is an independently calculated voluntary wage set by the Living Wage Foundation as the basic hourly amount needed to get by. This week the Foundation announced an increase from £9.00 to £9.30 per hour signalling a pay increase for people who work in organisations that have signed up.

The TUC South West says there are areas who fare much worse. Cornwall for example, is home to some of the poorest constituencies and wards in the UK, with low paid, insecure work particularly rife. The latest figures show a quarter of jobs are paid below the real living wage – despite rents and house prices going up.

And several places across Devon have it worse – with one in three jobs paying below the Real Living Wage.

 

Ahead of an election, the TUC is calling for urgent action to get wages rising again.

We need to see more than piecemeal increases to the current paltry minimum wages.

Nigel Costley, TUC regional secretary of the South West said:

“Working families deserve better than having to scrape by, loading the basics onto a credit card or cutting back when money dries up.

“The UK is one of the richest economies in the world. How is it OK that our nurses and care workers, teaching assistants and even our civil servants are resorting to food banks to get by.”

“For too long, wages have been held back by this government. We need to see more than piecemeal increases to the current paltry minimum wages.

 “Low pay is a problem that isn’t going away unless something is done about it.

“Poverty wages have been the norm for far too long; it’s time we saw action rather than more empty bus promises.” 

And we need unions to be able to access workplaces to negotiate good pay and terms and conditions, because we all know that joining a union is the best way to secure better pay.”

The TUC is calling for:

  • A minimum wage of £10 an hour for all workers
  • New and stronger rights for working people from day one in their job, including a right to redundancy pay, and family-friendly rights
  • A guarantee that hard-won rights like holiday pay, and rights to breaks won’t be slashed by the next government.

 

Editors note

Notes to editors:

 

Numbers are based on ASHE estimates of jobs for all employees

Jobs paid below the Real Living Wage 2019

 

Jobs (thousands)

Percentage (%)

UK

5,568

20.1

South West

482

20.4

Bath and North East Somerset

16

16.4

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

30

17.4

Bristol, City of

33

12.4

Dorset

36

23.9

North Somerset

16

23.1

Plymouth

21

19.9

South Gloucestershire

31

21.3

Swindon

18

16.2

Torbay

12

26.5

Cornwall

51

26.8

Devon

78

24.3

  East Devon

9

19.6

  Exeter

15

15

  Mid Devon

8

35.4

  North Devon

12

27.6

  South Hams

9

27.9

  Teignbridge

14

33.3

  Torridge

5

29.9

  West Devon

5

35.3

Gloucestershire

52

18.7

  Cheltenham

12

18.1

  Cotswold

7

21

  Forest of Dean

5

23.8

  Gloucester

12

18.2

  Stroud

11

19.7

  Tewkesbury

6

15

Somerset

45

21.2

  Mendip

10

29.3

  Sedgemoor

9

24.3

  South Somerset

12

18.8

  Somerset West and Taunton

13

17.8

Wiltshire

41

21.6

- The real Living Wage rate is independently set. New rates were announced this week (11 November 2019), with a rate of £9.30 for UK workers outside of London. Further information can be found here.

- The figures come from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. These figures are taken from the Parliamentary Constituencies and local authority data table 7 and 9.  They can be found on the ONS website here.