AVERAGE wages in South Lakeland have risen by less than seven per cent as the cost of living crisis starts to bite. 

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show median pay in South Lakeland was £1,873 per month in August – up from £1,752 a month before. 

It means wages have risen by 6.9 per cent in the last 12 months, just as the cost-of-living crisis has begun. According to the ONS's calculator if your wage is currently £1,873 a month it would need to increase to £2,034 in the next pay year to keep up with inflation. However, if it falls in line with average pay growth it would only increase to £1,976 per month in the next pay year. 

Nationally, the median monthly wages have risen by 6.5% in the last year to £2,111 in August, but this still represents a real-terms pay cut thanks to soaring inflation.

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Further ONS figures show real-term pay excluding bonuses, which takes inflation into account, fell by 2.8% year on year between May and July across the country, among the largest drop seen since records began in 2011.

According to separate ONS statistics, unemployment among 16 to 64-year-olds also continued to fall nationally year on year, reaching its lowest point since 1974 at 3.7 per cent in the three months to July. In the North West, it stood at 3.5 per cent – down from 4.8 per cent the year before. 

Despite the fall in unemployment, economic inactivity rose to 21.7 per cent across the country, it was at 23.3 per cent in the North West.

Greg Thwaites, research director of think tank Resolution Foundation, said: "Instead of the cost-of-living crisis tempting people back into work, more people are exiting the jobs market altogether, primarily due to poor health reasons". 

Trade Union Congress general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Every worker deserves a decent standard of living, and as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies, millions of families don’t know how they will make ends meet this winter."

Ms O'Grady urged Mrs Truss to increase pay packets, including boosting the minimum wage, giving public sector workers a decent pay rise, and allowing unions to negotiate better compensation for working people.