Third of jobs in Ipswich and Norwich ‘fall below £9/hr threshold’
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A high proportion of workers across Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk are struggling to make ends meet, with their earnings failing to reach a minimum threshold which wage campaigners say they need to live, according to a study.
Trade union the GMB said many were on hourly rates below £9 - the outside London figure set by the Living Wage Foundation. The government sets the National Living Wage at £8.21 for over 25-year-olds, and £7.70 for those under that age, but campaigners believe this rate is too low to support them.
The GMB, which looked at official figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), said across the East of England, nearly 442k people were on less than the 'real' Living Wage of £9, and 68% of these were part-timers. In Ipswich and Norwich, 30% of jobs fell below the threshold.
MORE - Bury St Edmunds garden living spaces manufacturer collapses with loss of 39 jobsThe median earnings for East of England residents in full time and part time employment in the year to end April 2018 was £13.39 an hour.
The area with the highest number of residents in jobs earning less than £9 an hour was Peterborough at 25,200 (30% of jobs), followed by a quarter of workers in Colchester, which has 18,750 residents earning less than £9, with 55% of them in part-time jobs.
Ipswich came third with 18,000 residents earning less than £9 per hour, representing 30% of all jobs. A total of 42% of these were in part-time roles. Huntingdonshire, which has 17,000 residents on less than £9, came fourth, followed by King's Lynn and West Norfolk which has 16,500 (30% of jobs, 41% of which are part-time). In Norwich, 16,500 of workers (30% of jobs, 39% of which are part-time) are on low wages.
Warren Kenny, GMB London regional secretary said the figures represented a "very high proportion" of working families.
"Policies need to take this into account. Here is a range of changes required," he said. "On support, these families are dependent on housing benefits. They are adversely affected by the cuts to working families tax credits as it transitions to the universal credit system. The cuts should be reversed.
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He called on contractors of outsourced public sector jobs to be obliged to offer a living wage to all workers, and moves to improve the 'upstairs-downstairs' labour market in the region.
A total of 12,700 people (30%) were on less than £9/hr in Waveney, and a fifth (7,800) jobs in Mid Suffolk were also below the rate. A tenth of jobs in Uttlesword, Suffolk Coastal and St Edmundsbury fell below the threshold, 25% in Fenland and 30% in Great Yarmouth, the study found.