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UK is only country in G7 where household budgets have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels
  • Families would be £750 a year better off if real disposable income had grown in line with other leading economies 

  • Working people are being made poorer by Conservative failure, union body says 

The UK is suffering the worst decline in living standards of any G7 country - according to new TUC analysis published today (Monday). 

The analysis shows the UK is only G7 economy where real household disposable income per head hasn’t recovered to its pre-pandemic levels: 

Real household disposable incomes in the UK were 1.2% lower in the second quarter of 2023 than at the end of 2019. 

But over the same period they grew by 3.5%, on average, across the G7. 

The TUC estimates that if real disposable income in the UK had risen in line with the G7 average UK families would be £750 a year better off. 

More pain ahead 

The union body warned that the contraction in UK household budgets is going to get worse – despite falling inflation. 

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts that real house disposable income per head in Britain will fall by an additional 3.4% by the end of the first quarter of 2024. 

And according to the same forecasts household budgets won’t even recover to their pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2026. 

The OBR said in November that UK households are suffering the worst period for living standards since modern records began in the 1950s. 

Households in debt 

The TUC says the Conservatives’ failure to grow the economy and deliver healthy wage growth has pushed many households further into debt. 

Analysis published by the union body at the end of December revealed that unsecured debt (credit cards, loans, hire purchase agreements) is set to rise by £1,400 per household, in real terms, this year. 

The TUC says working people have been left brutally exposed to rising costs after years of pay stagnation. 

UK workers are on course for two decades of lost living standards with real wages not forecast to recover to their 2008 level until 2028. 

The TUC estimates that the average worker has lost £14,800 since 2008 as a result of their pay not keeping up with pre-global financial crisis real wage trends. 

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said:  

“The UK is the only G7 nation where living standards are worse than before the pandemic. 

“While families in other countries have seen their incomes recover – household budgets here continue to shrink. 

“This is a damning indictment on the Conservatives’ economic record.  

“Their failure to deliver decent growth and living standards over the last 13 years has left millions exposed to skyrocketing bills – and is pushing many deeper into debt. 

“We can’t go on like this. Britain cannot afford the Tories for a day longer.” 

Editors note

Growth in real disposable household income in the G7 


change 2019Q4 to 2023Q2 

United Kingdom 






Japan * 








United States 


source: OECD; * Japan to 2022Q1 

- The analysis is based on OECD figures for real household disposable income per head, which extend to 2023Q2 (except for Japan, which go to 2022Q1). Looking forward, UK figures are based on Office for Budget Responsibility projections in the November 2023 Economic and Fiscal Outlook. As with the ONS outturns and OBR projections, cash figures are in 2019 prices. 

- The OBR measure living standards as real household disposable income (RDHI) per person. 

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