Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that wages rose at the fastest pace in almost a decade in the three months to September.
When compared to the same period last year, wages, excluding bonuses, grew by 3.2% – representing the biggest increase since 2008.
Once adjusted for price inflation, average weekly earnings (excluding bonuses) increased by 0.9% to total £493, the data showed.
Commenting on the figures, Matt Hughes, Senior Statistician at the ONS, said: ‘With faster wage growth and more subdued inflation, real earnings have picked up noticeably in the last few months.’
However, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) stated that pay needs to ‘rise faster’.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: ‘The government could help by giving working people more power in pay negotiations. Unions should have the freedom to enter every workplace to negotiate fair pay rises. And insecure workers need new protections so they have the security to demand fair pay.’
Research carried out by domain registrar GoDaddy has suggested that a significant number of UK workers are considering setting up a business in addition to working their usual day job.
Nearly a fifth of those surveyed have contemplated starting up a business on the side, GoDaddy revealed.
The survey found that ‘side businesses’ help individuals to top up their income, with some entrepreneurs reportedly earning between £500 and £5,000 on top of the salary from their day job.
48% of those who start up a side business do so to make money from a passion or a hobby, the research revealed.
However, some experts have warned that many have set up side businesses in order to make ends meet. Annie Quick, Subject Lead in Inequality and Wellbeing at think tank the New Economics Foundation, commented: ‘For many more people, this is something they’re being forced to do.
‘We’ve had a decade now of stagnating wages, benefit cuts and increasing prices, so many people are finding that a full-time job is no longer enough to put food on the table and are often having to turn to often poorly paid, insecure employment to top up their income.’
A survey carried out by the BBC has revealed that economists in the UK do not expect an interest rate rise until ‘at least 2019’.
Economists believe that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will not want to raise rates whilst Brexit negotiations are ongoing.
The base rate currently stands at 0.25%.
Half of the economists surveyed believe that growth in wages will outpace inflation during the first few months of 2019, the BBC found. In July, the rate of inflation stood at 2.6% – above the Bank of England’s 2% target.
Addressing the issue, Stuart Green, UK Chief Economist at Santander, said: ‘We believe that policymakers will be reluctant to tighten monetary policy until greater clarity emerges around the UK’s post-EU trading framework, and our expectation of declining inflation through 2018 should also reduce the pressure for an interest rate rise.’
However, Michael Saunders, a member of the MPC, recently stated that a ‘modest’ rise in interest rates is needed to ‘curb inflation’. Mr Saunders said that a rise would also ‘help ensure a sustainable return of inflation to target over time’.
Business groups have given their reactions to the recommendations of the Taylor Review into modern-day working practices, which sets out the key principles for providing ‘fair and decent work for all’.
The review suggests that a national strategy is needed to help provide security in such areas as wages, quality of employment, education and training, working conditions, work life balance and the ability to progress at work.
One of the main areas of focus relates to the so-called ‘gig’ economy, with the report recommending the creation of a new category of worker, known as a ‘dependent contractor’, to provide additional rights and benefits for those who are currently classed as self-employed, but who work for firms which have a ‘controlling and supervisory’ relationship with their workers.
The additional benefits would include sick pay, holiday entitlement and the minimum wage, and the new employment status would also oblige such firms to pay millions of pounds in national insurance contributions.
The report also suggests that there should be no further increases to the non-wage costs of employing an individual, and called for an end to the cash-in-hand economy, with a move towards such fees being paid for via trackable platforms such as PayPal.
Business groups have given mixed reactions to the report’s findings, with many welcoming the focus on labour market flexibility, but also warning that some areas, including the plans to rewrite employment status tests, are a cause for concern.
However, the TUC warned that the review ‘is not the game-changer needed to end insecurity and exploitation at work’.
Minimum wage legislation should be extended to cover self-employed workers who do not control their own rate of pay, according to a think tank.
The Resolution Foundation claims that of the 4.8 million people defined as self-employed, around half earn below the low pay earnings threshold of £310 a week.
The group argues that the government needs to do more to protect certain groups of self-employed workers, such as those operating in the so-called ‘gig economy’, as they do not have the opportunity to set their own wages.
If enacted, the change could also bring greater protection to those operating in more traditional sectors such as hairdressers and minicab drivers.
It proposes that companies who set the rate of pay for independent contractors would be required to calculate whether a person working at an ‘average’ pace would be able to earn at least the minimum wage after expenses.
The body has submitted its recommendations to Matthew Taylor, who is leading a government review into modern UK work practices.
Conor D’Arcy, a policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: ‘By extending minimum wage protections to those self-employed people whose prices are set by a firm … self-employed people in the gig economy would be given protection against extreme low pay for the first time ever.’
However, Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, warned that an ‘obligatory minimum wage would undermine the business model of many gig platforms … who would find it hard to justify paying people at times when there was no demand’.
The UK’s inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose to 2.9% in May, up from 2.7% in April, data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.
The rising costs of package holidays and imported computer games helped to push the rate to its current level. The ONS found that food and clothing prices also rose, but fuel prices fell.
Economists had previously predicted that the rate of inflation would remain at 2.7% in May.
Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), commented: ‘Higher inflation is a key business concern as it squeezes margins and weakens their ability to invest, particularly during this time of heightened political uncertainty.
‘A key focus of the new government must therefore be on easing the current pressure on firms’ cost base by tackling the burden of upfront costs and taxes associated with doing business in the UK.’
Meanwhile, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) expressed concerns that the UK’s rising inflation rate ‘continues to far outstrip wage growth’.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, warned: ‘The election showed that working people are struggling. The new government must stop the real wage slide. Ministers must focus on delivering better-paid jobs all around the UK.’
UK workers are set to experience a fall in real wages in 2017 and 2018, according to an analysis published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
The analysis, which is based on forecasts from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), found that the UK will be one of just five OECD countries to experience a fall in real wages.
UK real wages are on course to fall by -0.5% by the end of 2018. The business group found that, in other OECD countries, real wage growth is set to increase by an average of +2.6%.
Real wages for UK workers will be -6.8% lower in 2018 than they were in 2007 before the financial crash, the OECD has predicted.
The TUC is urging the next government to act in order to boost UK real wage growth.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, commented: ‘British workers have endured the longest pay squeeze since Victorian times.
‘Britain badly needs a pay rise – and all the political parties must explain in their manifestos how they will boost living standards across the UK.’