Real term pay falls, but fewer in Lancashire are claiming work related benefits, new official figures show

UK workers suffered the biggest fall in their real pay for nearly nine years as the cost-of-living squeeze tightened, according to official figures.

By Tim Gavell
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 4:55 am

The Office for National Statistics said regular pay excluding bonuses tumbled 1.8 per cent in the three months to February when taking soaring inflation into account.

The latest ONS data revealed the unemployment rate fell further below levels seen before the pandemic struck, at 3.8 per cent in the three months to February – the lowest since December 2019 and down from 3.9 per cent in the previous three-months.

Across Lancashire this was reflected in the fall in the number of people claiming work-related benefits such as Universal Credit.

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In the Blackpool North and Cleveleys constituency, 3,070 people were claiming benefits in March, down 3.2 per cent on the same month last year, while in Blackpool South there were 4,525, down 4.3 per cent on 2021.

In Preston there were 3,920 people claiming support, down 2.5 per cent on March 2021, in Chorley there were 1,990 claimants, down 1.9 per cent, in Fylde there were 1,570, down 2 per cent and in Lancaster and Fleetwood there were 2,025 claiming, down 1.3 per cent.

The Ribble Valley had 1,305 claiming, down 1.4 per cent, South Ribble had 1,365 claimants, down 1.5 per cent and Wyre and Preston North had 1,030 claiming, down 1.5 per cent on March last year.

The ONS said real pay was now “falling noticeably”, with figures for February alone showing regular wages dropped 2.1 per cent after inflation, which was the biggest drop since August 2013.

Nationally vacancies rose by 50,200, hitting another record high of 1.29 million in January to March.

And a shrinking labour market, due mostly to older workers choosing to retire early throughout the pandemic, has also seen those classed as economically inactive rise by 76,000 in the quarter to 8.9 million.

Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS , said: “Overall, employment in December-February was little changed on the previous three months, and so is still below its pre-pandemic level.

“While unemployment has fallen again, we are still seeing rising numbers of people disengaging from the labour market, and as they aren’t working or looking for work, are not counted as unemployed.

“Early estimates suggest there was only a small increase in the number of employees on payroll in March, while job vacancies, although again at a record high, rose at their slowest for nearly a year.

“While strong bonuses continue to mitigate the effects of rising prices on people’s total earnings, basic pay is now falling noticeably in real terms.”