One in four workers in St Albans earning less than the living wage

Cllr Mills says she is 'surprised' by the number of people in St Albans earning less than the living

Cllr Mills says she is 'surprised' by the number of people in St Albans earning less than the living wage - Credit: Archant

More than a quarter of the workforce in St Albans are paid less than the national living wage, according to figures released this week.

Research undertaken by Markit, and commissioned by KPMG, estimates that more than 17,000 - or 26 per cent - of those working in St Albans are earning less than the proposed living wage, which was raised this week by five per cent to £8.25.

The figures show that of Hertfordshire’s ten districts, St Albans has the joint highest proportion of those earning less than the living wage (alongside North Hertfordshire) and the highest number of workers below the threshold - Welwyn Hatfield comes second with 4,000 fewer.

District councillor Roma Mills said she was “surprised” by the figures and said: “Given the impression we have of St Albans as an affluent part of the country, it’s surprising to hear that one in four people in the area are earning less than the living wage.

“And in reality, it is probably one of the most affluent areas in the country - certainly in terms of house prices. When more and more people are earning lower wages it becomes difficult to recruit in social care, difficult to recruit teaching assistants - those sorts of jobs.

“Many people cannot sustain living in rich areas any more - the cost of housing alone means people cannot afford to live in their own communities.”

The Living Wage Foundation - which recently published its 2015 calculations for the living wage, adding an extra 40p to the London and national figures - works out the figure by anaylsing research from the Centre for Research and Social Policy at Loughborough University.

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The London living wage, which is currently £9.40 per hour, only covers the boroughs of Greater London, while St Albans - which has house prices and living costs comparable to much of Greater London - is subject to the national living wage (£8.25), meaning that those in the district earning less than the amount needed to survive is probably higher than 26 per cent, as quoted in KPMG’s research - something Cllr Mills said she found “troubling”.