South West MEP, Molly Scott Cato has responded in dismay to the news that two areas in the region top the poll of the highest proportion of jobs paying below the living wage. Figures released by the Office of National Statistics reveal that West Somerset is the place in the country with the highest proportion of those paid less than the living wage (41.9%), while Torridge is a close second (41.6%). West Devon features tenth (36.7%) which means three of the top ten worst paid areas in the country are in the South West. However, overall as a region, only the South East and East regions of England have a lower proportion of jobs paying below the living wage. Dr Scott Cato said:

“This survey shows the South West as a region of great inequality when it comes to pay, with some parts of the region suffering from a very high proportion of jobs paid below the living wage. It reveals a region where many thousands are living in poverty, a situation which will only be made worse by recent government changes to tax credit and other benefit cuts. Greens want to see a Living Wage of £10 an hour but also other upward pressures on wages such as a policy whereby someone at the top of an organisation cannot earn more than ten times the amount paid to those in the lowest paid jobs.”    

Dr Scott Cato also pointed to the fact that those parts of the South West with the highest proportion of jobs paying below the living wage are also the areas with the greatest potential for jobs in renewable energy. A report she commissioned earlier this year identified Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset as counties with the greatest potential for renewables; all able to produce in excess of 100% of their energy needs from renewables. These are also counties where there are areas with high numbers of jobs paid below the living wage. The report concluded that the region as a whole could create over 122,000 jobs in the renewables sector given the right investment and political support. Molly Scott Cato said:

“The jobs in the renewables sector could be quality skilled jobs, paid above the living wage. But with recent cuts to subsidies for renewable energy and changes in planning law making it more difficult for schemes to get the go-ahead, it appears we have a government that has an ideological obsession against renewable energy. Rather than creating the skilled green jobs of the future, the government seems hell-bent on destroying a sector which has huge potential for higher paid jobs in the South West.”

Share