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Ministers accused of 'twiddling thumbs' as wages continue to lag behind inflation

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Workers continue to feel the pinch as wages failed to keep up with the pace of rising prices for the fifth month in a row, official figures revealed today.

Taking inflation into account, average weekly earnings in Britain fell by 0.4% in the three months to July compared with the same period in 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It comes after the Government finally lifted the 1% pay cap for public sector workers – although the first rises for police and prison officers will also be outstripped by inflation.

The ONS yesterday revealed inflation for August stood at 2.9% - up from 2.6% the previous month - in part due to the drop in the value of sterling since the vote for Brexit.

Senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: “Despite earnings rising by 2.1% in cash terms over the last year, the real value of people’s earnings is down 0.4%.”  

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady fumed: “Ministers need to stop twiddling their thumbs and get wages rising across the economy.”

She added: “Yesterday’s derisory offer to prison and police officers must not be a sign of things to come.

“The Government needs to offer nurses, firefighters and all public servants increases that at least match the cost of living.”

There was better news for the Government with unemployment falling by 75,000 in the three months to July, bringing the proportion of those out of work to just 4.3% - the lowest rate since 1975.

Mr Hughes added: “Another record high employment rate and a record low inactivity rate suggest the labour market continues to be strong.

“In particular, the number of people aged 16 to 64 not in the labour force because they are looking after family or home is the lowest since records began, at less than 2.1 million.”

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