62% of all Northern Ireland adults in poverty in 2015-16 were living in working households
Marginal increase in total incomes in Northern Ireland leaves households lagging far behind rest of UK
Jackie Pollock, Deputy Regional Secretary for Unite, said that figures released today on Household Incomes in Northern Ireland for the 2015-2016 tax-year confirmed the region needs a pay rise.
“These statistics show that while Northern Ireland’s total household incomes have increased marginally over the year to 2015-2016, this increase has largely been confined to the very lowest levels of income – driven by the government’s raising the minimum legal threshold for wages.
“Despite this small increase, household incomes here continue to lag behind those in the rest of the UK. What’s even more concerning is that there has been a sharp spike in the proportion of adults in poverty who live in working households. In 2015-2016, 62% of adults in poverty were in working households – a jump of 10% over the previous year.
“That means that in 2015-16 in Northern Ireland, more than 107,000 adults in working households were in poverty. Work is clearly failing to lift households out of poverty. That reflects the growing prevalence of poverty pay and precarious work-forms such as temporary and part-time working, zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment.
“Sadly the situation is only likely to get worse in 2017. There is currently a spike in inflation rates with retail price inflation, the measure that includes housing costs, running at 3.7%. Most analysts agree that this will rise considerably higher by the end of the year, while all predictions are for average pay increases to remain at about two percent. Those figures will mean another year of pain for workers and working households.
“Such statistics present a challenge to society as a whole but most especially to the trade union movement. Workers must learn the lessons of history: there’s only ever been one way higher real wages have been secured – and that’s strong and active trade unions.
“The best way to reverse this trend is join a fighting trade union like Unite and get organised. In our unity there is strength: strength to secure pay deals that beat inflation, to raise living standards and end household poverty”, Mr Pollock concluded.