Low paid workers can’t afford Manchester, says new report


Annual wages for low paid collapse by almost a fifth, writes John Bowman


A new report into wages and living costs in Manchester has found that inflation is vastly outstripping the wages of the bottom 10 percent of earners, with devastating consequences – even when benefits and tax credits are taken into account.

The recent study, by New Economy says that between 2009 and 2011, low paid workers saw their hourly pay decline by 7.5% in real terms.

But this hourly statistic masks a colossal collapse in annual pay – many low paid workers have been forced to cut down the number of hours they work each week. The result is a 17.5% reduction in annual pay among the city’s lowest paid which amounts to £1,317 on average.

In order to make ends meet, the study concludes that employees in Manchester need to be earning at least £7.20 per hour and suggests the introduction of a living wage. But currently the lowest earning percentile are trying to scrape by on only £6.26 per hour – lower than in other northern cities including Leeds and Newcastle. The report authors believe that in annual terms, Manchester could be the very worst city in England for poor workers.

The latest statistics on working poverty come at a time when unemployment is also at crisis levels. In one year, Greater Manchester unemployment has shot up by over 10%. Long-term unemployment is up 47% on a year ago.

Manchester City Council’s response to this growing crisis of poverty and unemployment is beyond belief, and in response to yet more central government cuts, it made the decision only a few days ago to reduce council tax benefit by 15% for most people.

At the same time, the supposedly cash-strapped council has angered many by authorising £55,000 in tax breaks for an enterprise zone near the airport, and selling a property in the Longsight area worth £120,000 to a housing association for only £1.

It’s clear that Manchester City Council doesn’t give a damn about the poverty crisis that they have overseen in the last year, and see ‘trickle-down’ economics as some kind of solution. We need to start planning a local city-wide campaign of protest now, to make sure we are on a strong footing for after the 20th October TUC protest in London.

Greater Manchester Anticapitalists are currently contacting a number of groups and campaigns in the GM area to build a united local strategy of intense autumn campaigning in the run-up to, and after the ‘For a Future that Works’ demonstration. If you want to help, please contact us. You can also keep informed through our brand new Facebook page here.


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