Two-thirds of Hartlepool women earn less than living wage and fall ‘deeper into debt’

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Two thirds of women in part-time jobs in Hartlepool are earning less than the living wage, shocking new figures today reveal.

The statistic, which stands at 65.9% of workers, is the highest in the North East areas and was released by the TUC to mark Part-time Equal Pay Day.

Having a job should mean that those in work are able to pay the bills and have a higher standard of living.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright

Across the region, over two in five part-time women’s jobs pay less than the living wage of £7.85 an hour.

The living wage is 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.

But TUC analysis 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.

Middlesbrough and South East Cleveland at 63.2% and Newcastle North at 60.2% are the next two worst affected areas in the region.

In both areas more six in ten women working part time earn less than the figure.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright today slammed the Government for “hitting working women the hardest”.

“The issue of low pay for working women is something I’ve raised several times in Parliament,” said Mr Wright.

“More women in the town are getting deeper into debt and poverty and having to rely on support such as the town’s food bank.

“It shouldn’t have to be like this. Having a job should mean that those in work are able to pay the bills and have a higher standard of living.”

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

The TUC says that even though Chancellor George Osborne has introduced a minimum wage premium for over 25s, it is still well below the living wage and will be undermined by his new cuts to tax credits.

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

TUC regional secretary Beth Farhat said: “Working parttime 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 but 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.