PAY PACKETS are still worth less than in 2008 in nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of UK local authorities, according to new TUC analysis.

The analysis of official statistics shows that 16 years on from the global financial crisis, wages are set to be lower – in real terms – in 212 out of 340 UK local authorities in 2024. And in every UK local authority, real wages are far below where they would be if they had grown at the pre-2008 growth rate.

London has the highest share of real wage blackspots – with real pay lower than in 2008 in nearly all (94 per cent) of its local authorities. However, even in lower-paid regions of the UK like the North East – where incomes of those on the very lowest pay have been pushed up by the minimum wage – real wages are still lower than in 2008 in half (50 per cent) of local authorities.

The TUC described the findings as a “damning indictment” of the Conservatives’ economic record, as millions of UK workers are currently enduring the longest pay squeeze in more than 200 years. Not since Napoleonic times has there been such a sustained period of wage stagnation.

The analysis shows that even in areas where real wages are higher than in 2008, pay growth is way below historic trends. Before the financial crash, UK real weekly wages grew on average by 1.7 per cent each year. Since 2008, average annual growth has been –0.2 per cent. The union body estimates that the average UK worker would be £10,400 a year better off if real wages had grown at their pre-crisis trend – the equivalent of £200 a week.

The UK has one of the worst records among OECD nations for pay growth since the financial crisis. When the Conservatives took office in 2010, a wage recovery was already underway. However, it went into reverse when the Conservatives implemented their austerity programme, including real terms pay cuts across the public sector.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “Hard work should pay for everyone. But people are still worse off than in 2008 across the vast majority of Britain. And in every corner of the UK, pay growth is way below historic trends. This is a damning indictment of the Conservatives’ economic record. This is the same government that’s given us the most dramatic fall in living standards on record.

“The Tories failure to grow the economy – and their scorched-earth austerity policies – has decimated family budgets. Just imagine how much better off people would be if they had an extra £10,400 in their pay packets each year – and how much more prosperous the country would be.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. We can create a new era of decent pay growth again where families’ living standards rise rather than falling backwards. But we need a new approach to get there. That means a proper plan to get the economy growing again by investing in UK industry, and a New Deal so that working people get a fair share of the wealth they create.”

* Source: Trades Union Congress