Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

222,000 Workers Facing Struggles with Poverty; Business

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

222,000 Workers Facing Struggles with Poverty; Business

Article excerpt

Byline: jonathon manning jonathon.manning@trinitymirror.com

NEARLY a quarter of people in the North East are trapped in poverty despite being in work, according to new research by KPMG.

The report estimates that around 222,000 employees are being paid below the real Living Wage of PS8.45 per hour.

The figure represents 23% of the those working in the North East, and means that many families are in pov erty despite working.

Part-time workers in the region were found to be most at risk of being underpaid, with 132,000 employees - 46% of part-time staff - being paid below the Living Wage.

In comparison 96,000 full-time workers, or 14%, were paid less than PS8.45 an hour.

Currently businesses are only required to pay their workers the National Minimum Wage, which is PS7.50 for 25-yeaolds, but drops to PS5.60 for those aged between 18 and 20. The minimum wage for apprentices is PS3.50 per hour.

According to the Living Wage Foundation, this does not provide people with enough cash to live on.

David Elliott, Newcastle senior partner at KPMG, added his voice to those calling for higher pay for staff.

He said: "Today's figures show that more work needs to be done if we are to eradicate in-work poverty.

"It's unfortunate that in 2017 more than 222,000 working people in the North East are earning below the real Living Wage and cannot enjoy the standard of life so many of us take for granted.

"It is clear that it may not be possi ble or practical for everyone, but businesses need to do what they can to address the problem of low pay.

"Change cannot happen instantly, but making an initial assessment is an important first step."

He added: "Even though the number of people earning below the real Living Wage has slightly decreased in the North East, the reality is that those at the bottom of the pay scale are really feeling the squeeze due to increases in the cost of living and decline in pay. …

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