Low wage earners work over half the week just to pay rent
Just over a million people in England – about a fifth of the working population – earn the minimum wage. Apart from a few areas (the green patches) in most parts of the country we have found that people earning the minimum wage need to work at least 15 hours a week, every week, just to pay their rent. If the average working week is 37.6 hours some might be looking at around half of that time just to keep a roof over their heads. That’s of course before all the other costs: food, transport, the electric and gas bills etc.
In London and parts of the South East it’s even more extreme. In Westminster 78 hours per week of minimum wage-paid work are required to pay the rent and in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea it’s a staggering 93 hours. Even in less affluent areas of London – where people on the minimum wage are more likely to be able to afford to live – you would have to work longer than the average working week. In Newham it’s just less than 38 hours and almost 40 in Harrow.
We also looked at people earning a living wage, which is £2.65 per hour more than the minimum wage in London and an additional £1.35 an hour in the rest of England. The extra money does seem to make a difference and suggests more of a North/South divide. Nevertheless, in more than half of local authorities people are still having to work up to 30 hours a week to pay their rent.
The state of the housing market is such that the amount you pay to put a roof over your head is totally disproportionate to the income you earn. These are market driven forces that are fuelled by an under-supply of homes which must be urgently addressed.
I’m no mathematician, statistician or economist but if we want to change this – and why wouldn’t you – isn’t the solution relatively simple? Build more homes, pay decent wages and charge realistic and affordable rents
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