Average weekly wages have fallen for the first time since July 2020 – when judged against inflation – according to ONS figures.

According to the official statistics, while salaries are rising, they are not rising as fast or in line with the current cost of living. 

Inflation is expected to reach at least 6 percent by April according to Bank of England forecasts. ONS figures, meanwhile, show that regular pay, excluding bonuses fell 1 percent in November compared to the same month in the previous year, after being adjusted for inflation.

Pay is rising but not as fast as inflation 

The weekly average pay rose to £550 in November 2021 (excluding bonuses), when compared with £510 in March 2020. According to the ONS, wages had a 0.5 percent slower rise between September and November than between August and October.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady criticised the government for not raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour, saying: “Working people deserve a decent standard of living and a wage they can raise a family on. But instead, following the worst pay squeeze for two centuries, real pay is falling, and they now face a cost-of-living crisis.”

The figures also show that in December 2021, there were 29.5 million PAYE workers in the UK, up by almost 200,000 on the month before. Besides a decrease in unemployment, there was also a significant increase in the number of part-time workers.


Offer flexible working 

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation said firms need to look at new approaches to developing their workforce. He said: “It’s clear that temporary and part-time work is playing a key role as people find new roles in different sectors as the economy changes rapidly. More short-term and part-time roles may also reflect greater flexibility from firms as they struggle to hire in this market.”

The founder and chair of the diversity and inclusion- focused recruiter Aspire is Paul Farrer. He said employers need to keep hold of their talent:  “The labour market remains fiercely competitive, with employers fighting hard to recruit the talent they need to kick on in 2022. With regards to wages dropping, in our experience, this certainly isn’t the case. From creative sectors to sales, events and technology, we are witnessing historic wage growth as businesses offer higher salaries to win the war for talent.”

Niki Turner-Harding, Senior Vice President, Adecco UK & Ireland said workers must be given a host of benefits to stay with a company in this climate.

“This battle for talent will continue to burn bright – with flexible working, childcare, and learning and development offerings pivotal to effective talent attraction and retention.

Adding that career progression is also important: “Employers must carefully consider how to support employees’ career progression if they want to keep the talent they already have, as the ‘Great Resignation’ continues to sweep through different industries”





Feyaza Khan has been a journalist for more than 20 years in print and broadcast. Her special interests include neurodiversity in the workplace, tech, diversity, trauma and wellbeing.