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A poverty cloud is hanging over 42% of workers.

Byline: ALICE CACHIA ECHO Correspondent news@liverpoolcom @LIVECHONEWS

FIGURES from the Office for National Statistics reveal that 2.4 million adults across the region had been employed for at least 12 months in 2018.

Some 998,000 of those - or 42.4% - earned less than PS20,000.

Campaigners warned that people on low pay often have "nothing left" after they've paid for things like rent and bills - and said many will be going hungry and relying on high-cost credit. The wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles had the highest number of employees in the North West earning under PS20,000 - at 221,000.

They accounted for 58.2% of the industry's workforce, which includes car traders, mechanics and car washers.

Although the industry had more poorly-paid workers than any other in the North West, it was by no means the highest proportion.

Industries where households were employers - including jobs like maids, gardeners, caretakers and babysitters - saw 94.4% of employees earn below PS20,000 in 2018.

That was followed by the accommodation and food service (75.9%) and those working in arts, entertainment and recreation (64.8%).

At the other end of the scale, just 19.9% of employees working in the information and communication industry - which includes jobs such as IT consultants - earned less than PS20,000.

Matthew Geer, campaigns manager at poverty charity Turn2us, said: "It is really concerning that the majority of people in poverty are in working households - 50% of people who came to Turn2us for help over the last year were in work.

"People stuck in low-paid jobs often have nothing left once they have paid their rent, childcare and bills.

"Often this leads to relying on highcost credit, hunger, and at the worst end of the spectrum, severe poverty."

Across the UK there were 8.7 million workers who took home less than PS20,000 in 2018. They made up 39.1% of the country's workforce.

The news comes as a report from the Low Pay Commission estimated that 439,000 people across the UK were illegally paid less than the minimum wage last year, with women and young workers most at risk.

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: "Low pay is a huge problem in Britain and eight million people living in poverty are in working families, and cuts to support for working households are pushing people into foodbanks.

"The minimum wage is still too low.

We need it to reach PS10 as quickly as possible.

A government spokesperson said: "Independent data shows that 17.8% of UK workers are low paid, the lowest level since records began.

"Meanwhile, the UK employment rate is a record high, with wages outpacing inflation for over a year."

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TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 8, 2019
Words:466
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