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Revealed: shocking levels of sub-living wages in Devon and Cornwall

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 17, 2014

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More than one-third of people living in parts of the Westcountry earn less than they need to cover the basic cost of living, new figures have revealed.

Figures released by the Cabinet Office and placed in the House of Commons Library show that 38% of employees in St Ives earn less than the so-called living wage.

Across the Tamar, in Torridge and West Devon 36.3% of employees earn below the threshold, which is set at £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 an hour in the rest of the UK.

St Ives has the 14th highest number of people earning less than the living wage, and Torridge and West Devon the 21st highest, underlining how the region struggles with a low wage economy as a result of decades of collapse of traditional industries.

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The living wage is based on the amount an individual needs to earn to cover the basic costs of living.

Because living costs vary in different parts of the country, there is a different rate for London and the rest of the UK.

By comparison, the national minimum wage is significantly lower. From October 1 this year, the national minimum wage is £6.31 an hour for adults and £5.03 for those aged 18 to 21.

In North Cornwall, 33.6% of employees earn below the living wage, while this affects 33.3 % of employees in South East Cornwall, 31.6% in St Austell and Newquay, 31.5% in Central Devon, 30.1% in Totnes, 29.7% in Newton Abbot, 28.4% in Camborne and Redruth and 28.4% in Torbay.

The figures relate to the percentage of employees whose hourly pay excluding overtime earn below the living wage.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband favours making a living wage commitment as part of his party’s manifesto for the next general election.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also said he supports the idea in principle but Business secretary Vince Cable warned late last year that its implementation could cost thousands of jobs.

“I can see the advantages of having a measure which individual employers can strive for if they are profitable employers, put it forward as an example of good practice,” he said. “I do, however, worry about the living wage becoming a policy tool which governments are expected to apply in part or in whole.

“If you have general application of the living wage at the kind of level that is being discussed it would have very considerable impacts on employment.”

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9 comments

  • Citzensmith  |  February 19 2014, 5:17PM

    This news will not get publhdin the HE as it never runs anything that yekks the Bay we pay a pittance ro workers but a select few get richer .

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  • break  |  February 17 2014, 5:34PM

    We could talk about affordable housing now,surely councils must know what people get paid in order to stick on the term 'affordable'? Anyway,we all know Cornwall is poor,our ruling parties have had long enough to change it so one can only presume that they want us poor, probably makes the richer area's richer.

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  • ImSparticus  |  February 17 2014, 2:38PM

    Labour Leader Ed Miliband favours making a living wage commitment as part of his party's manifesto for the next general election. Yeah, that's why it's documented that Labour conspired to keep wages low in this country, fact. Whilst that was going on all we were hearing about was fox hunting....

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  • Moor2River  |  February 17 2014, 1:53PM

    TWINSCREW - it is not the poor immigrants from other countries who are being exploited here that are your problem - it is the continuing flux of wealthy second-home owners/business people/retired immigrants from less beautiful parts of Britain who have driven up house prices beyond any of our means. How many of these firms paying the absolute minimum they can get away with are owned/operated by reasonably well-off folk from the South-East?

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  • Ax0l0tl  |  February 17 2014, 1:20PM

    Torbay council is doing its bit to keep people in poverty. http://tinyurl.com/ojzkl33

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  • TWINSCREW  |  February 17 2014, 12:53PM

    IMHO this situation will not improve while we have open door immigration, where people from countries which pay a very low wage are only too happy to accept pay which falls below a living/minimum wage.

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  • Fizissist  |  February 17 2014, 11:25AM

    "We had all this when the minimum wage was proposed all the Tories whinging that it would cost jobs and no jobs were lost. It is a disgrace that so many in the West are ignored when it comes to decent wages." Paying the living wage has several advantages, employees feel valued, more money is spent in the local economy, businesses prosper leading to expansion and more employment. A virtuous circle. It also reduces the payment of benefits, which means either money can be spent elsewhere (storm/flood defences) or taxation can be reduced.

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  • toffer99  |  February 17 2014, 10:52AM

    We're all in this together. Its just that some of us are in it up to our necks.

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  • josdave  |  February 17 2014, 9:20AM

    We had all this when the minimum wage was proposed all the Tories whinging that it would cost jobs and no jobs were lost. It is a disgrace that so many in the West are ignored when it comes to decent wages. Cornwall Council for one has spent so much time on promoting tourism, which provides low paid part time seasonal jobs, it cannot see the need for real industry paying good wages all year round.

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