HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright says women in the town are being “badly affected” by low-paid part-time jobs.
Mr Wright says raising pay standards for women in part-time work will boost the town’s economy in general and stop the “disgraceful situation” of families relying on food banks.
It comes a day after the Mail reported that Hartlepool has the region’s highest proportion of women working part-time and earning less than the living wage.
According to data provided by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), more than half of Hartlepool women working part-time – 55.9 per cent – are paid below the living wage.
The living wage – the pay rate needed to let workers lead a decent life – is currently set at £7.65 an hour.
The national mininum wage is lower, at £6.31 an hour.
The town fares the worst out of the whole of the North-East for ensuring fair pay for females.
Mr Wright said: “It’s clear that the economy is not working for the majority of working women in Hartlepool.
“Low pay, part-time and often insecure employment is badly affecting women in the town, leading to a disgraceful situation where working families are often getting deeper into poverty and increasingly having to rely on things like food banks.
“Matters have been made worse by the policies of David Cameron’s Government, where changes to tax credits and pensions have hit women hardest.”
But Conservative councillor for Hartlepool’s Rural West, Ray Martin-Wells, hit back, saying: “I would completely disagree with our MP.
“Policies are not directly being targeted at women.
“The measures that the Conservative coalition Government have taken were the result of 13 years’ mismanagement by a Labour Government, bringing the country into deep debt. Whilst I regret some of the policies that the Government have felt necessary to bring in, if they hadn’t, we would be facing similar prospects to countries like Greece, where 50 per cent of civil servants were made redundant and the remainder had their salaries reduced by up to a half.”
Mr Wright said: “Hartlepool’s economy shouldn’t be based on low pay.
“The town’s women deserve better than that.
“We should be encouraging firms, through the setting of public sector contracts, to pay their employees a Living Wage.
“This increases the spending power of Hartlepool workers, which will be spent back into the local economy.
“Labour has pledged over the lifetime of the next Parliament to raise the minimum wage to more closely match average earnings.
“We need to ensure that working hard pays, but that can only be done by tackling low pay and stopping in-work poverty, making sure that both working men and women can afford to pay the bills and feed their families.”