Issue date
22 Mar 2018
  • New official statistics show working age poverty in the South West is falling slowly, despite employment growth. 
  • Government must act to improve the quality of jobs, wages and in-work support though universal credit, says TUC

TUC analysis of new official poverty figures published today (Thursday) has found that working age poverty in the South West has fallen slowly since 2010/11, despite regional unemployment falling significantly. 

The proportion of working age people living in poverty was 20% in 2010/11, and 18% in 2016/17, according to today’s new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The slow progress comes despite unemployment in the South West falling considerably from 6.6% in 2011 to 3.6% in 2017.

TUC Regional Secretary for the South West Nigel Costley said:

“If you work hard, you shouldn’t have to worry about making ends meet. Yet despite rising employment, lots of working families in the South West are still living in poverty.

“Unless ministers reverse their planned cuts to universal credit, things will get much worse. 

“Working people in the South West desperately need a new deal. First of all, this means cracking down on exploitative zero-hours contracts and sham self-employment. We also need more public investment in national and regional infrastructure, as well as our public services to support the creation of decent jobs that a family can live on.”

Working people in the South West desperately need a new deal.

Editors note

Proportions of workers in (1) working age poverty and (2) unemployment for UK nations and regions*

UK nation or region

(1) Working age poverty %

(2) Unemployment rate %

2010/11

2016/17

Change (ppts)

Jan-Mar 2011

Jan-Mar 2017

Change (ppts)

North East

22

24

+2

10.4

5.9

-4.5

North West

23

22

-1

7.8

4.3

-3.5

Yorks & Humber

23

22

-1

9.2

4.9

-4.3

East Mids

21

20

-1

7.7

3.9

-3.8

West Mids

24

22

-2

9.5

5.7

-3.8

Eastern

18

18

0

6.2

3.9

-2.3

London

28

26

-2

9.1

6.1

-3.0

South East

16

17

+1

5.7

3.5

-2.2

South West

20

18

-2

6.6

3.6

-3.0

Wales

22

24

+2

7.7

4.8

-2.9

Scotland

19

19

0

7.7

4.4

-3.3

Northern Ireland

19

19

0

7.2

5.3

-1.9

UK

21

21

0

7.7

4.6

-3.1

* A worker is considered in working age poverty if their household income is less than 60% of median household income (after housing costs).

Source: Poverty figures are taken from Households Below Average Incomes 1994/95-2016/17 and unemployment figures from the Labour Force Survey, both of which are publications of the Office for National Statistics.

  • HBAI provides data at national level for the proportion of working age adults living below the poverty line that have at least one adult in work. Today’s new data shows that for 2016/17 it was 60%, meaning that the majority of working age people living below the poverty line are in households with work. The data sample is not large enough to be able to give this sub-categorisation at regional level.
  • The TUC is calling on the government to improve pay and increase the supply of well-paid work by:
    • Increasing the minimum wage to £10 as quickly as possible
    • Giving all public-sector workers a fully funded proper pay rise, after years of pay cuts
    • Raising public investment to the OECD average of 3.5% of GDP, so that the UK has the infrastructure needed to attract business and create well-paid jobs
    • Establishing a National Investment Bank, with a remit to target communities where good quality and well-paid jobs are most needed
    • Strengthening collective bargaining rights for workers, and setting up new bodies to negotiate pay in sectors where low pay is endemic, such as hospitality, agricultural labour and care work

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 49 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.