TUC – The Conservatives are presiding over the worst period for living standards in modern history

The government’s failure to get wages rising has pushed families to the brink

20 Mar 2023| News

The Conservatives are presiding over the worst period for living standards in modern history, new TUC analysis has revealed today.

The analysis shows that by the end of this parliament, household disposable incomes will have fallen for nearly half the time the Tories have been in office.

By the time of the next election – household disposable income will have fallen for six of the 14 years the Conservatives have been in power.

Worst period for living standards in modern history

The TUC says 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 union body says the government’s failure to get wages rising has been key in driving down household disposable income.

UK workers are currently enduring the longest wage squeeze in more than 200 years, with real wages not set to recover to their 2008 value until 2026.

The TUC says 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.

Urgent action on pay

The TUC says urgent action is needed to boost wages across the economy.

The union body is 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 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.”

On the need to boost pay, Paul 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.”