ONE in four people working in Devon earns less than the Living Wage, according to TUC analysis of official figures from the House of Commons Library.

The worst-hit area is Torridge (where 41.2% of workers earn less than £7.65 an hour), followed by West Devon (30.5), Torbay (29.9%), Teignbridge (29.7%), South Hams (26.3%), Mid Devon (24.6%), East Devon (22.4%), North Devon (22.1%), Plymouth (17.8%) and Exeter (14.8%).

The figures have been released to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the minimum wage and the second week of the TUC’s Fair Pay Fortnight which runs until Sunday (6 April).

At the other end of the income scale, in some parts of the country – mostly in the South East – as few as 5% of workers are paid under the Living Wage.

Nigel Costley, Regional Secretary of the South West TUC, said: “Extending the Living Wage is a vital way of tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across Britain.

“Working families are experiencing the biggest pressure on their living standards since Victorian times. Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom and it’s costing the South West's economy dear.

“The number of Living Wage employers is growing rapidly and unions are playing their part in encouraging more employers to sign up and pay it – but government must show equal initiative. We need to see a far greater commitment to pay the living wage from government and employers, and modern wages councils which could set higher minimum rates in industries where employers can afford to pay their staff more.

“During Fair Pay Fortnight we’re asking workers to back our call to MPs to get all political parties to put decent pay at the top of their agendas in the run up to the election.”

ends Nigel Costley is available for comment on 0117 947 0521 (ISDN on request) or 07787 797 153