Waveney and Babergh working population among country’s highest on minimum wage

New figures have shown that Babergh and Waveney districts have a high percentage of workers on minim

New figures have shown that Babergh and Waveney districts have a high percentage of workers on minimum wage. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Council chiefs have moved to reassure low paid workers that they will not be abandoned as figures show two Suffolk districts have among the highest rates of minimum wage in the country.

Data released by the Low Pay Commission has ranked 391 authorities across England, Scotland and Wales on the percentage of its workforce on minimum wage.

Waveney had the 13th highest percentage with 17.7% of its working population on the minimum wage, while Babergh had 15.4% and ranked at 32.

West Somerset had the highest nationally with 25.5% – one in four workers – compared to just 1% in the City of London.

Current national minimum wage rates are calculated at £5.90 an hour for those aged 18 to 20, while people aged 21 to 24 earn £7.38 an hour. Those aged 25 and over earn £7.83 an hour.

Chiefs at Babergh District Council vowed not to leave the lowest paid behind.

A council spokesman said: “Our district regularly ranks among the best places to live and work in the country, and average earnings are the second highest in the county and low unemployment.

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“However we know that doesn’t tell the whole story – there are people in Babergh working very hard to make ends meet, and we are determined not to abandon them just because the overall picture is rosy.

“We are determined to ensure all of our residents can share in the success of Babergh.”

The council said there were several programmes with partners to help grow businesses and thereby increase the number and quality of jobs. Average earnings are £34,000 per year – above the Suffolk average.

A Waveney District Council spokeswoman said that some areas such as Lowestoft did suffer from economic deprivation and added that “the high number of employees on minimum wage is a symptom of this”.

Its economic growth strategy aimed to address the problem by upskilling work with colleges and training providers, attracting more investment to the area, spearheading a major regeneration programme in Lowestoft and encouraging local enterprise.

The spokeswoman said it would make Waveney a more “dynamic, modern, open and investment friendly,” place with a “highly skilled workforce which will attract higher value employment which will in turn raise wage levels”.

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