Union accuses George Osborne of having the “economic literacy of a stick of rhubarb” as UK living standards drop by 5.9%


Full time workers resident in North West England have suffered the worst drop in living standards in the UK, with the real value of their average gross earnings falling by 9.1% between April 2007 and November 2011, due to ‘bankers recession’ and stalled recovery, according to the GMB.

The union has published figures showing the fall for the UK as a whole is 5.9% and for England is 6.2% during the same period.

General secretary Paul Kenny said: “These figures show that the government’s strategy for an economic recovery is in tatters as living standards in the UK drop by 5.9%. George Osborne has the economic literacy of a stick of rhubarb.

“Full time workers in all regions in the UK have seen the value of their earnings drop when they have a job. Things have got a lot worse in the past year as the recovery underway at the time of the election stalled and the UK is mired in a new recession.

“Two thirds of the economy is consumer driven and Osborne must be the only person who does not get it. Squeezing wages, pay freezes and cutting jobs will not restart the economy. Using the IMF measures his cuts will reduce real private consumption by 4% and GDP by 3.4% over the next few years.

I doubt if the electorate had any notion that a change of government would lead to a loss of 376,000 jobs across the UK, in the public sector, in the short time since the general election. When the ‘same old Tories’ were returned to power they brought with them the same old philosophy that “if it’s not hurting it’s not working.”

The union’s figures show the South West’s full time workers suffered the next worst fall in living standards in the UK with a drop of 8%, followed by the West Midlands with a drop of 7.6%, the East of England with a drop of 7.3%, Yorkshire and Humberside with a drop of 7.1%. In the East Midlands the real value of average earnings for full time workers is down by 7%, for Wales the fall is 6.7%, for London the fall is 5.1% and for the South East it is 5.5%. In Northern Ireland the fall is 4.6%, for Scotland the fall is 4.1% and for the North East the fall is 2.3%.  In all regions in the UK the real value of the average gross earnings for full time workers resident in each region have fallen.

The fall in living standards for full time workers resident in some parts of the UK have been much more severe. Full time workers resident in Hammersmith & Fulham have seen the real value of average earnings drop by 28.6%, the largest drop in the UK. Next is Herefordshire with a drop of 22.7%, Bedfordshire down 20.7%, Nottingham down 20.5%, Hillingdon down 19.2%, Harrow and Stirling down 17.2%, Cheshire down 16.6%, Bracknell Forest down 16.5% and Conwy down 15.8%.

In the analysis GMB looks at the figure for annual average gross earnings of full time workers in each regional and area from official ASHE data for April 2007 from ONS before the recession kicked in. This figure is compared with the figure for annual average gross earnings for the same region/area from ASHE for April 2011.  The changes shown in annual average earnings between these two periods, plus an uprating for wage increases to September 2011 are measured against inflation over the same period to calculate the real change in the value of these earnings. 

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