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Malvern exposed as living wage 'black spot'

Malvern Editorial 3rd Sep, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

MALVERN has been branded one of the UK’s living wage ‘black spots’ due to the high amount of women working part time who earn below £7.65 an hour.

Analysis of House of Commons’ figures by the Midlands TUC (Trade Union Congress) revealed two thirds of women (65.7 per cent) in the district working less than 35 hours a week, were underpaid and suffering from ‘in-work poverty’.

The damning statistics show Malvern has the highest proportion of part time women earning below the living wage in the Midlands and the third highest in Britain.

Julian Roskams, leader of the Democratic group on Malvern Hills District Council, said he personally intervened to ensure the council did not have anyone employed below the £7.65 hourly rate.

“It is appalling, though sadly no surprise, that Malvern has such a poor record on the living wage,” he said. “This is an area that traditionally has a very high incidence of part time and low salaried working, by nature of the employment profile of the area.

“Nationally, the so-called economic recovery has been built on the exploitation of zero hours and part time contracts, which have a disproportionate and detrimental effect on women workers.

“While CEOs have never been better off, they rely on the taxpayer – through tax credits – to top up the wages of their lowest paid.

“Following my intervention, MHDC took measures to ensure none of its employees were paid below the living wage.

“However, as more council services are contracted out, it must do a lot more to ensure its ‘partners’ pay the living wage, and it must start encouraging local employers to do the same.”

The Midlands TUC findings also exposed a massive gender divide throughout the UK which revealed most women working part time earned 66p for every £1 a man earned working full time.

Although, the fact three quarters of Britain’s six million-strong part time work force are women contributes to the imbalance.

Lee Baron, Midlands TUC regional secretary, said: “In-work poverty is growing across the Midlands and it’s often women that bear the brunt of low pay.

“The living wage was created so that work can provide staff with a basic standard of living. But in too many places like Malvern, most women working part time are way off earning this.

“Women would gain most from a greater take-up of the living wage by employers. Councils can lead the way by becoming living wage employers themselves. But they also need to work with local employers and unions to use the living wage to tackle in-work poverty throughout the area.”

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