Blackpool has once again found itself at the wrong end of the league table when it comes to average wages, a new study shows.
Pensions firm NFU Mutual looked at the average wage in all the parliamentary constituencies in the country and found Blackpool South had the lowest in the North West.
The average wage there was £16,400, which compared to £16,900 in Preston, £19,700 across the region as a whole and £21,000 as the national average. Highest earning area in the region was Altrincham at £25,900 according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The survey follows on from news last month that Blackpool was the worst area in the North West and the seventh worst in the country for poor rates of pay with more than two in five people working in jobs where they get paid less than £7.85 an hour – the so-called Living Wage.
The low rates of pay are blamed on the seasonal nature of much of the resort’s employment and the number of low skilled jobs compared to other more traditionally manufacturing areas.
Martin Long, head of the Blackpool and Fylde office at Napthens Solicitors and head of the Blackpool Business Leaders Group, said that it was no surprise that Blackpool was at the bottom of the wage table given its historic social deprivations issues.
Through low wages, people’s debt quickly creeps up
But he said great efforts were being made to address skills in the area which could mean better paid jobs.
He said: “Our group is a partnership of the three local authorities and private enterprise to up-lift skill levels and raise aspirations and improve economic activity.
“We have a strong, growing energy sector on the Fylde coast with around 80 businesses and we were delighted to see Blackpool being chosen as the headquarters of the National Energy College which will drive skills in the sector.
“The recent enterprise zone announcement is also good news with its capital allowance incentives which will help attract companies .
“We already have a strong presence on the Fylde with precision engineering. The hope is that the enterprise zone can create 6,000 new jobs and build on that.”
Nikki Hart from the Blackpool Food Partnership which works with agencies to help people in poverty said Blackpool’s low wage issue was a problem which affected people in many ways.
She said: “Through only earning low wages people’s debt levels can quickly creep up to the point when it reaches crisis levels.
“The food we supply is just part of a package of support we offer including debt advice.
“There is a problem with low wages in the area and a problem with people on Universal Credit where some people we have seen have been waiting six weeks for the money.”
Paul Clarke, chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual, said the low wages were a real problem for the local economy but some respite could be given through income tax.
He said: “Whether you’re a higher or basic rate taxpayer, there are simple things you can do to reduce tax bills.
“If your husband, wife or civil partner is paying a lower rate of tax than you, transferring certain assets can reduce your tax bills.
“Pension contributions can reduce income tax and money in ISAs also has generous tax allowances.”