May 6, 2014

Bill Esterson



According to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, if you are in work in this country you are on average £1,600 a year worse off than you were four years ago. 

Right here in Formby, Maghull, Crosby and Aintree, the chances are you are worse off than that as 15,300 of you earn less than the living wage of £7.75 an hour. 

Those 15,300 people represent 40.4% of the workforce in Sefton Central, the fourth highest proportion of people on low pay in the country. 

Next door West Lancashire is in fifth place. 

Any of you in work in a low paid job will confirm just how hard it is to make ends meet and how hard it is to find a job, which pays more than the living wage. 

It looked at first glance as if wages had caught up with prices and that standards of living were about start to go back up. Last month, official government figures showed that wages were finally inching ahead until you looked at the figures a bit more closely. There was one slight problem. 

The government’s figures included bonuses, not something available to many of the 15,300 of you below the living wage. 

But without bonuses, prices were still going up faster than wages and by quite a bit. All of which showed that there may be a recovery of sorts in the economy but welcome though that recovery is, it has yet to reach the majority of ordinary people, especially those who don’t receive bonus payments. 

And of course this time last year was the only other month in the last four years when wages went up by more than prices. This was because the sizeable bonuses paid to those at the top of the financial services industry among others were delayed until the new financial year had started to take advantage of a tax cut for those earning over £150,000 a year. 

There has been help from the government for the wealthiest and no doubt they are seeing an increase in their living standards. 

If you are lucky enough to be paid £1million a year, you are £100,000 a year better off as a result of the tax cuts made last year. But if you earn less than the living wage, this is not much help to you. 

Most people I meet face a very real challenge in paying their bills without going into debt. A growing number of people are going to foodbanks and people are having to choose between heating and eating. 

It is good news that the economy is finally growing again, albeit after the slowest recovery for a 100 years, but what is needed now is action to cut the cost of living and to boost the economy for the many not just the few at the top. 

My Labour colleagues are promoting help with energy prices, with rents and in creating jobs especially for young people alongside the building of a large numbers of affordable homes. These measures will help those of you earning less than the living wage. 

But ultimately, we need much better paid jobs for young and not so young if we are reverse the problems of the cost of living crisis which you have all seen in the last few years. 

That is why I shall do what I can to support measures which help businesses to create the kind of jobs which do just that.