New research shows precisely who’s to blame for your tanking living standards

Boris Johnson and David Cameron - representing the TUC releasing a report into living standards and wages
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According to new analysis from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Tories have presided over “the worst period for living standards in modern history”. It’s a trend which has seen wages collapse and living standards tank. The problem began with David Cameron, and has persisted with each of his short-lived successors. It’s also a trend which the TUC argues cannot be allowed to continue.

Decline of the times

The TUC is reporting that:

  • NEW ANALYSIS shows that by the end of this parliament household disposable incomes will have shrunk for six of the 14 years the Tories have been in power
  • Between 2010-11 and 2023-4 household disposable income growth will increase by just 0.2% a year – compared to an average of 2.3% before 2010-11
  • Union body says the government’s failure to get wages rising has pushed families to the brink

The trade union-representing body adds that:

The current squeeze on family budgets is the longest and deepest since records began in the 1950s. Between 1955-6 and 2009-10, household disposable incomes fell just six times – the equivalent of around once every nine years. But between 2010-11 and 2023-4, household disposable incomes are on course to fall nearly once every two years.

Ahead of the Tories taking office in 2010-11, the average growth in household disposable income was 2.3% a year. But since 2010-11 it has plummeted. By 2023-4, household disposable income growth will have increased by just 0.2% a year since David Cameron took power.

Two decades of lost living standards

The TUC refers to our recent past as “two decades of lost living standards“. It adds that key to driving down household disposable income has been “the government’s failure to get wages rising”. This has led to UK workers “enduring the longest wage squeeze in more than 200 years, with real wages not set to recover to their 2008 value until 2026. The union adds:

years of wage stagnation have pushed families across Britain to the brink. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, household disposable incomes will contract by nearly 6% between now and 2023-4 – the worst squeeze since modern records began.

Given the increasingly dire situation, the TUC argues that urgent action is needed. With that in mind, it’s calling on the government to:

  • Resolve all of the current pay disputes in the public sector by agreeing fair pay deals for all public servants
  • Work with unions and employers and the private sector on sector-wide Fair Pay Agreements to improve pay and working conditions
  • Raise the minimum wage to £15 an hour as soon as possible
  • Ban zero hours contracts to help end the scourge of insecure work
  • Increase Universal Credit to 80 per cent of the real Living Wage.

TUC: “the time for excuses is over”

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said:

Everyone who works for a living deserves to earn a decent living. But working people are suffering the longest squeeze on wages in more than the 200 years. This has decimated household budgets and pushed many families to breaking point.

By the time of the next election, pay packets will still be worth less than in 2008. That is a shameful record for the government. The Conservatives are presiding over the worst period for living standards in modern history.

Nowak added:

The time for excuses is over. Ministers must get pay rising across the economy.

That means a decent pay deal for all our public servants. It means working with unions on sector-wide Fair Pay Agreements, starting with social care and the ferries sector. And it means raising the minimum wage to £15 an hour as soon as possible.

Under the Tories, conditions have increasingly worsened for an increasingly large number of people. Rishi Sunak may have little interest in bucking that trend, but if the unions and their supporters can apply enough pressure, he’s going to buckle whether he likes it or not.

Featured image via Wikimedia – World Economic Forum, cropped to 770 x 403 under licence CC BY-SA 2.0

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  • Show Comments
    1. What we, the working class, need – according to The Guardian’s allegedly leftish commentators – is another period of Labour government which will, by Labour’s own statements, manage austerity, the end of the NHS and declining living standards for us more responsibly than the chaotic Tories in the interests of the corporations who rule our lives.

      If the UK is a democracy, where is the choice? There are no socialist parties of any size, and the corporate media ensure that there will never be any. It is completely up to us to change that.

    2. Nobody but a right-wing ideologue, whether neoliberal or worse neoconservative, should find this surprising. Free market or more accurately unregulated capitalism is to the UK and US what Marxism was to the USSR: it remains in place because it is to the benefit of the establishment that it does. Not wonder that like the USSR if only virtually the US and UK have become one party states.

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