It’s been no surprise that workers in the UK have had their wages cut in real terms since the financial crisis began, but now the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has highlighted the extent of the problem.
Releasing a report comparing the UK’s average wage growth to other countries in economic turmoil, the TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said that “while most countries have suffered periods of negative wage growth, no-one has witnessed such a marked decline as the UK. This government’s blind obedience to self-defeating austerity has ensured that we are leading the way when it comes to the squeeze on living standards. Businesses desperately need people to spend money but employees are cutting back as their wages are squeezed. And the public sector, far from making up the gap, is being slashed too. Unless we get stronger economic growth with rising real wages consumer spending will remain weak and the economy will continue to flat-line.”
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, was quick to make his own statement: “I know some people think it is being stubborn to stick to a plan, that somehow this is just about making the numbers add up with no care whatsoever for what it means for people affected by the changes we make, but nothing could be further from the truth. My motives for sticking to the plan are exactly about doing the right thing to help families and businesses.”
Average wage increases versus inflation have become a real problem for families in the last few years, with many households turning to short term loans or credit cards in order to plug the gap in their spending. However, these are short term solutions at best, and without the economy of the UK picking up as a whole, more and more people are going to find themselves flirting with the poverty line.