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Real value of Westcountry pay packets continues to fall

By WMNlynbarton  |  Posted: December 15, 2013

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The real value of wages in the Westcountry have continued to plummet with women still lagging way behind their male colleagues in the pay stakes.

According to the latest in depth look at incomes by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), wages have gone up by 2.1% nationally, 0.1% under the current level of inflation.

But unions says that while on the face of it this seems good news, the reality is that since 2007 wages in the Westcountry have steadily been lower than inflation.

Had wages kept up with inflation, Westcountry workers would be taking home nearly £2,500 more than they do at present.

Nigel Costly, regional secretary for the South West TUC, said people were bitterly well aware their money wasn’t going far enough.

“People do feel this,” he said.

“It is the big issue of the day, particularly for us in the Westcountry where we have a low wage economy and a high cost of living.

“Wages continue to be squeezed and we seem to have backwards, which is all rather depressing.”

According to the ONS, the average gross income in the South West in 2007 was £22,665 and in 2013 was £25,251.

However, Mr Costley said that if someone on the average wage in 2007 had received pay increases which were simply in line with inflation, their wage would now be £27,531.

“The fact is that the real value of wages has decreased,” said Mr Costley.

“How we can have consumer led growth in the economy when wages are so low?”

The ONS report also made worrying reading for female workers after revealing that the gender pay gap is wider than ever.

In 2013 women in the South West earned an average of £98.50 less per week than men.

Kathryn Nawrockyi, director of Opportunity Now, a campaign driven by the Business in the Community group, said there was no excuse.

“It’s shocking that in 2013 women in the South West continue to be paid less than men,” she said.

“Opportunity Now believes firmly in fair reward and recognition for all at work, irrespective of gender, and we’re working closely with our member organisations to achieve this for women across the UK.”

The ONS annual survey also revealed that the median gender pay gap across the UK has increased to 10% from 9.5% in 2012.

There is also still evidence of a median pay gap between full- and part-time workers of £4.75 per hour, which disproportionately affects women – three times as many women work part-time as men.

In the South West, 571,000 women compared to 197,000 men work part-time.

Opportunity Now is currently compiling a wide ranging survey of female workers views and experience to help them tackle the pay divide.

Project 28-40, named after the age range when women’s career progress stalls, aims to be the biggest ever survey of women and work in the UK, with over 21,000 responses already received.

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