Britons feeling the pinch as real wages fall
LONDON (AFP) – Stagnant wages and Brexit-spiked inflation are hitting young Britons hard, an expert who resigned in protest from a government body last month told AFP, as new data showed the country was feeling the pinch.
Workers’ average weekly earnings adjusted for inflation fell 0.4 percent year-on-year from August to October 2017 — an erosion of purchasing power.
“The impact of falling real wages is that young people are staying longer in their family home, delaying childbirth and renting rather than buying housing,” Paul Gregg, head of the University of Bath’s social policy research unit, told AFP.
Gregg resigned from the National Social Mobility Commission last month along with its leader Alan Milburn and two others, citing a lack of government action to improve the living standards of the poorest.
“For the first time there’s generations coming through that haven’t got higher living standards than the previous generation and in terms of home ownership are way behind,” he said.
The Social Mobility Commission last month released a report highlighting the “coldspots” around Britain where children from disadvantaged backgrounds are least likely to do well in future life.
“Coldspots have lower wages because of the general absence of larger firms and reliance on lower wage industries such as tourism, retail, hospitality.”
Many of them also suffer from poor transport links and education and low occupational mobility.
All 30 of the worst zones for social mobility in the UK voted in favour of Brexit in last year’s referendum, and many of them also suffer from poor transport links and education provision.
Gregg said the government should focus investment on these areas, by developing “transport connections, access to high speed internet and a regional development strategy that addresses remote areas not just cities.”
Referring to his decision to resign from the Social Mobility Commission, which was created in 2010, he said: “It got to the point where it felt like we were banging our head against a brick wall.
“We’ve got this extended period where stagnant living standards and austerity has been the political offer and that’s not very attractive.”