A new study has found that the North East is the worst-paid region in the country with wages 16 per cent, or £85 a week, below the national average in some parts.

Analysis shows that the average pay packet in the region is seven per cent, almost £40 a week, lower than the national average, which equates to £2,000 a year.

The TUC, which has published the report, has said the findings show the “devastating impact” years of wage stagnation have had on workers in the North East.

It found real wages, pay adjusted for inflation, are worth less in the North East than they were in 2010.

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The Northern Echo: Durham City MP Mary Kelly FoyDurham City MP Mary Kelly Foy (Image: Contributor)

Labour MP for Durham City Mary Kelly Foy said: “This is concrete evidence of the Tories empty ‘levelling up’ promises. The North East is being left behind once again.

“This research confirms that what people see in their pay packets, means under the Conservatives they are poorer now than in 2010 so it’s no surprise the North East now has the highest level of child poverty in the UK.

“This research could not be timelier, as Trade Unionists, the Labour movement and working people come together at the Durham Miners Gala this weekend to say: ‘enough is enough’ during the Tory cost of living crisis.

“Working people’s living standards are being sacrificed by Tory economic mismanagement.”

Polling carried out by the TUC in 2022 revealed that many workers in the region were struggling to cope with rising bills.

It found that one in six people across the North East were skipping meals or go without food to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, Loughborough University research has recently revealed the UK's steepest rise in child poverty is in the North East.

There are an additional 50,000 North East children in poverty since 2015, two-thirds from working households.

The Northern Echo: Easington MP Grahame MorrisEasington MP Grahame Morris (Image: Contributor)

Labour MP for Easington Grahame Morris said: “The persistently lower wages in the North East compared to other regions come as no surprise.

“Despite promises of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ and ‘levelling up’, the Government has failed to take the necessary actions to address structural inequalities in our local economy.

“After 13 years in power, our local economy is more fragile than ever.

“To achieve better jobs and higher wages, we need a stronger local economy. “This requires real investment and comprehensive strategies to uplift our region and empower its hardworking residents."

Separate polling by CIPD Northern Good Work Index has already shown growing dissatisfaction with work in the wider North. 

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “Everyone who works for a living deserves to earn a decent living. But pay in the North East is the worst of any UK region.

“Thirteen years of wage stagnation have taken a devastating toll on family budgets so it’s no surprise that workers are having to take strike action to defend their living standards - especially with bills skyrocketing.

“Any sensible government would be working with unions to boost pay and conditions throughout the North East and the UK.

“But instead, ministers are railroading through parliament new anti-strike legislation that will make it harder for people to win a fair deal at work.”

The TUC study found average weekly pay was:

  • £85 a week less in Redcar and Cleveland
  • £80 a week less in Middlesborough
  • £67 a week less in Sunderland
  • £40 a week less in County Durham  

North Tyneside is the only North East local authority in the region where average pay is keeping pace with the UK median salary.

The Northern Echo: Paul Nowak, General Secretary of the TUCPaul Nowak, General Secretary of the TUC (Image: TUC)

In his maiden address at Durham Miners’ Gala on Saturday, Mr Nowak will call for a new deal for working people and will strongly criticise the Government’s new Strikes Bill that will give ministers new powers to sack workers who have legally voted to take action.

He said: “The TUC will fight this spiteful new bill. And let me put this Government on notice - we will fight for every worker who exercises their democratic right to strike.”

On addressing the Gala for the first time as TUC General Secretary, Mr Nowak added: “It is a fantastic honour to be asked to address the Gala.

“This event has an amazing history of bringing workers and communities together to demand change and a better country.

“Having worked for several years as TUC North East Regional Secretary I know how much the Gala means to people in this region.”

Tory MPs across the region, including Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison, have been contacted for comment but none have responded.

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A Government spokesperson said: “Our ambition is to reduce regional inequality and support prosperity across the UK where we are working to improve wages and jobs for everyone to reap the rewards of our Levelling Up mission.

“At the Spring Statement, we recently announced £400 million for areas most in need of levelling up, including Middlesborough and Redcar, to ensure people across the North East benefit from our targeted support.  

“We recognise how tough things are for families in the North East, so we are helping with cost of living support worth £3,300 on average per household this year and next.”