Low Pay Britain: a devastating report

The Resolution Foundation has today  published Low Pay Britain 2013 – a devastating report on how pay in Britain has changed in recent years.  In summary it shows that:

  • the number of people in work earning less than a living wage has risen from 3.4 million in 2009 to 4.8 million in April 2012.  Inflation-adjusted median pay, at £21,300, is £3,300 lower than the pre-recession peak – without any real prospect of recovery in the next few years;
  • One in five employees earned less than the low-pay threshold of £7.44.  Low pay overwelmingly affects women, the young, part-time workers and those working in the hospitality and catering industries. And although the proportion of people in relatively low pay has not changed significantly since the 1960s the steeper distribution of pay – i.e. greater inequality – has exacerbated its effect.
  • Relative low pay has not really changed, but the real effect of low pay has been massively exacerbated by the soaring price of the essentials of life – something that ought to be intuitively obvious to anyone outside the Westminster bubble
  • Wages have failed to keep pace with increases in productivity.  In other words, it’s a myth that harder, more efficient work brings better pay.
  • Britain has one of the highest rates in the world of full-time workers falling below the low-pay threshold

It’s a sobering report that makes clear the real effect of Osborneomics.  The report’s chart showing the collapse in median pay since 2008-9 needs to be waved under the nose of everyone who has ever claimed that we are all in it together:


The report needs to be read in full. It should make every progressive politician in Britain deeply angry.  The sad thing, of course, is that it will barely penetrate the walls of Westminster.





2 thoughts on “Low Pay Britain: a devastating report

    • Fair point – you’re right: it can be quite a lazy piece of political shorthand. I think what I mean by progressive politics is what shifts wealth and power towards those with less of either.

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