"Scandal" 1.6 million Northerners paid less than the real living wage

A leading think-tank is calling for a Northern Living Wage

15th May 2019

More than one in four Northerners are paid less than the living wage, according to research by a leading think-tank.

A total of 1.6 million people in the North are paid less than the real living wage, the amount independently calculated as what families need to get by, the report by IPPR North said.

Northern women are worst affected, with one in three in the region being paid less than the real living wage.

Workers in the North have also suffered a bigger fall in average weekly pay than the national average — a drop of £21 per week over the last decade.

Northern leaders should address a “job quality crisis” by bringing in a Living Wage North by 2025.

Government should increase funding to local government; but there are steps that local authorities can take

Marcus Johns, author of the report and researcher at IPPR North said: “People in the North are experiencing a job quality crisis. That one in four Northerners are paid less than the real living wage is nothing short of a scandal.

“Ten years of austerity has made it hard for local authorities to act,” added Johns. “Of course government should increase funding to local government; but there are steps that local authorities can take to improve the quality of work, as some are already showing.”

Following the election of a metro mayor for the North of Tyne earlier this month, the North has more devolved power and leadership positions than ever, and IPPR North is calling on mayors, councils and other leaders to use this power to improve pay in their local economies.

A major way in which councils can push for a living wage in the North is by making it a procurement condition, meaning any business that wants to bid on council contracts or deal with the authority must pay their employees a real living wage, the report stated. Local authorities can also make a difference by putting low-pay sectors at the heart of local industrial strategies, according to the report.   

We need to build a North that works in the interests of all people and places, not just profit

The report highlighted a number of places where solid work is already being done to address the job quality crisis. Salford has put in place an employment charter, which promotes decent work among employers and the Greater Manchester and Liverpool city regions are working toward similar goals.

Johns said the next phase of the government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative should prioritise economic justice.

“We need to build a North that works in the interests of all people and places, not just profit. The first step is for leaders across our region to work together to ensure that Northerners have access to decent work,” he added.

15th May 2019