Inflation falls to 4.6% but millions of workers in insecure and low paid work still facing significant cost of living pressures

A chef preparing food in a restaurant kitchen.

Responding to the CPI inflation figures for October 2023, released by the Office for National Statistics, Ben Harrison, Director of the Work Foundation at Lancaster University, said:

“While the Government will be encouraged to see inflation fall to 4.6% – below its 5% target for the first time since November 2021 – millions of workers in insecure and low paid work are still facing significant cost of living pressures.

“Wage growth in sectors such as hospitality and tourism – where insecure jobs tend to be concentrated - remains lower than average and workers in these jobs are more likely to be impacted by high food inflation which is still at 10.1%. Recent research from the Work Foundation and the Chartered Management Institute shows that nearly half of insecure workers could not pay an unexpected bill of £300 in the next week, and one in three insecure workers expect to lose their job in the next 12 months.

“But the situation is most critical for those relying on Universal Credit to make ends meet. It is vital that the Government does not step back from its commitment to uprate benefits for 2024 in line with September’s inflation data (6.7%) at the Autumn Statement. The UK’s unemployment benefits currently provide just 17% of recipient’s previous income levels – the lowest in the OECD.

“Introducing further welfare sanctions to push people into ‘any job’ would be similarly damaging. Instead, the Government must focus on improving the quality of jobs available and providing more tailored support for jobseekers with different needs.”

Statistics quoted on insecurity are from - Managing Insecurity: The role of good management (13 November 2023) and OECD Benefits in unemployment, share of previous income (2023).

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