1 in 6 workers stuck in low pay for a year

One if six workers have been trapped in low paying work with their wages increasing by less than the national average for at least a year, according to new research.

One if six workers has been trapped in low paying work with their wages increasing by less than the national average for at least a year, according to new research.

Job insecurity has also increased, with more than two million people in part-time or temporary work because they can’t find a full-time job – a figure that has doubled since 2006.

The findings come from the ‘Work in Progress’ project, which was commissioned by the Trust for London and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, and which brings together new analysis on low pay and progression at work for the low paid.

The study found that in many cases there was ‘virtually no support’ from mainstream programmes to help low-paid workers progress – despite two-thirds of providers considering it to be very important or fundamental to participants.

And increasing earnings from the National Minimum Wage to the Living Wage could benefit the Exchequer by £2.8 billion a year, the research suggested.

Other ecommendations from the report include:

  • Unlocking the £2 billion Adult Skills Budget – with eligibility for full funding for Level 2 training extended to those in work and identified as most at risk of low pay and poor progression. Currently this funding cannot be spent on supporting low-paid workers.
  • The development of a new ‘Employment Plus’ model, that combines support to find work, stay in work and progress in work. This approach should be incorporated into any successor to the government’s Work Programme.
  • An ‘open source’ Innovation Fund to rigorously test new approaches to improving retention and progression, evaluate them and share the results.
  • Measuring success in Jobcentre Plus on the time that those leaving benefit spend off benefit (and in work), rather than just the number that leave benefit.
  • Identify and consult on a ‘basket of indicators’ for measuring progression in the economy and programmes.

Director of policy and Grants at the Trust for London Mubin Haq said the research showed we need to do more to support low-paid people to progress in work.

“If this does not happen there is a real danger of Universal Credit failing. Its success is dependent on over a million low-paid workers increasing their earnings, by either increasing their pay or the hours they work,” he said.

And director of policy at the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion Tony Wilson said that “virtually none” of the £2.9 billion a year spent on mainstream employment and skills support was used to help people in low paid work to increase their earnings.

“This is despite falls in real wages, a growth in insecure work and record levels of working poverty,” he added.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.