More evidence has emerged of the desperate conditions faced by millions of low-paid workers across the UK.
Even as the Conservative government increases the voluntaryUK Living Wage to £8.75 an hour (£10.20 in London), the Resolution Foundation reports that a quarter of low-paid workers were permanently stuck in low-wage jobs over the last decade.
Nearly half fluctuated in and out of the low-pay bracket, while just one in six escaped into more gainful employment. Low pay is defined by the foundation as less than two-thirds the median hourly wage of £12.10. This means more than 5 million people are earning £8.10 an hour or less.
The emergence of such a low-wage workforce, just 70 pence less than the new supposedly living wage, reflects broader structural changes in the British and world economy following the 2008 financial crash. Full-time employment is now out of reach for many, with growing numbers forced into precarious part-time and self-employment, lacking even basic protections including sick pay. According to the report, 64 percent of those permanently stuck in low-pay were working part-time.
For the British working class, the period of austerity since 2008 has been one of continued and drastic decline in real wages: down 11 percent in 2017 compared with 2007, and with inflation continuing to outstrip wage growth throughout this year. The only section of the workforce to improve its pay was the poorest 15 percent, thanks to the abysmally low level at which these workers started. The Resolution Foundation report highlights sharp divisions in these “gains.”