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More than half of women in South Tyneside earning ‘poverty pay’

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More than half of women working part time in South Tyneside are earning “poverty pay”, shocking new figures today reveal.

The statistics, which show that 57.1% of women in Jarrow and 56% in South Shields do not get the living wage of £7.85 per hour, are the highest among all North East areas.

Working part-time shouldn’t mean poverty pay, but for lots of women in the North East that is the reality.

Beth Farhat, of the TUC

Low-paid women who work part time typically include cleaners, restaurant workers and those in retail.

Across the region, over two in five part-time women’s jobs pay less than the living wage, an independent measure calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, distinct from the National Living Wage as announced in the last Government Budget, of £7.20 an hour, replacing what was previously called the minimum wage.

Analysis by the TUC of official figures shows that earning less than the living wage is the norm for women part-time workers in 12 of the North East’s Parliamentary constituencies.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck blamed cuts to local authority jobs by the current Government as one of the main problems for the high figure.

She said: “It’s very worrying to see that so many women in our area are being paid less than the living wage, and it’s clear that years of austerity under David Cameron have been particularly hard for women.

“Women are more likely to work part time, and anyone working part time right now will tell you that pay and conditions are weak.”

TUC bosses say they are concerned that despite three years of stronger economic growth, many working women still remain trapped in in-work poverty.

Union chiefs argue that by paying all workers the living wage it would help tackle in-work poverty.

TUC regional secretary Beth Farhat said: “Working part time shouldn’t mean poverty pay, but for lots of women in the North East that is the reality. The living wage was created to provide workers with a basic standard of living.

“However, many part-time women in our region earn well below £7.85 an hour and now face being hit by the Chancellor’s cuts to tax credits which will wipe out any gains from his new minimum wage premium.

“If we don’t create better opportunities and increase wages for part-time staff then women will continue to bear the brunt of in-work poverty.”

Today, two-thirds of the way through 2015, is effectively the last day this year that women working part time get paid.

This is because they earn 67p for every pound earned by men working full time, a pay gap of 33%.

One of the main reasons for the pay divide is the large concentration of women doing low-paid, part-time work, says the TUC.