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18 November, 2018 - 20:08 By Tony Quested

More East of England workers dip below real Living Wage

More than a fifth of workers in the East of England now earn less than the real Living Wage – up from 21 per cent last year –  new research from KPMG reveals. Females continue to get the worst of the bargain.

The real Living Wage increased 25p from this month to £9 an hour but KPMG’s figures reflect the old rate of £8.75p an hour. An estimated 502,000 jobs fell below this threshold. 

The East of England has the fourth lowest share of low earners out of the 12 UK regions, following London, and Scotland and the South East.

The national figures show that there has been an increase of more than 1.2 million jobs falling below the threshold since 2012. 

A closer look at the findings reveals that part-time workers are more than three times as likely to be paid below the Living Wage, with 43 per cent below the threshold compared to only 13 per cent of full-time workers. The analysis also reveals that nearly seven in ten workers aged between 18 and 21 earned below the threshold, compared to the lowest proportion of only 15 per cent among those aged 40 – 49. 

The prevalence of in-work poverty increased again once approaching retirement age, with a quarter of those 60+ facing in-work poverty. 

Looking to gender equality, the proportion of female employees earning less than the real Living Wage (27 per cent) continues to exceed that for males (17 per cent). 

This means that nearly 60 per cent more women were paid below the real Living Wage, compared to men. Furthermore, in every age category, the proportion of females earning less than the threshold exceeded the percentage of males, with the greatest gap noted among those 50 – 59 years of age. 

Charles Le Strange Meakin, senior partner for KPMG in Cambridge, was appalled by the findings. He said: “The latest real Living Wage analysis makes for very dire reading on all counts. While some progress was made last year, it’s clear that it has retreated and left more facing in-work poverty as a result, especially if you’re a part-time worker, under the age of 21 or over 60, female, living outside the South East, or any combination of these. 

“In fact, the number of jobs paying below the real Living Wage has actually increased by 1.2 million since 2012, hammering home the magnitude of this problem. 

“It’s critical that we reward and value those making a contribution to our society and economy, and clearly such a sizeable challenge requires a collective approach.”

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