Wages for Southend workers fall behind the rest of Essex

Salaries in Southend are falling behind the rest of the county with residents in Thurrock and the rest of Essex earning nearly £50 extra per week.

National employment statistics show that people working in Southend earn less than those working in other boroughs and significantly less than the rest of the east of England.

Full time workers in Southend earn on average £512 per week whereas those in Thurrock are earning £547 and workers in Essex are earning £560 – £2 more than the £558 average for the east of England.

It comes after Government figures revealed Southend is home to some of the most deprived parts of the county, prompting council leader Councillor Ian Gilbert to declare he would be “unrelenting” in tackling the issue.

The council has also become a living wage employer in September, meaning that the lowest wage for a directly employed member of staff is £9 per hour or £17,364 per year.

Cllr Gilbert said: “A priority of this administration is to close the gap between average earnings and house prices, so that people who grow up locally can afford to live locally.

“Although in power for only a few months, we have already led by example and declared Southend Council as a living wage employer. We are also now going through our supply chain to ensure that those working for us indirectly are also in receipt of at least the living wage, enabling us then to seek official certification.

“The harder challenge will be to attract investors of key specialist sectors, such as aviation, pharmaceutical technology and creative industries, to set up and expand in the town, employing and training local people wherever possible and working with local further education providers to ensured there is a local pipeline of trained candidates for these roles.

“One thing Southend can be proud of, is its education. We are a university town, with excellent local schools and colleges.

“We are preparing young people better than ever for the world of work, consistently punching above our weight when it comes to exam results. But we need to amplify our efforts to retain these students once they have completed training or qualifications and ensure there are the employment opportunities in our town for them to move into.”

Data also shows that in all areas there is a large gap between the earnings of men and women. In Southend full-time male workers earn around £521 per week while women earn just £488.
But the most significant gap is in Thurrock where men take home £627 each week – the highest in all of south Essex – while women take home £457, which is less than in both Southend and Essex.

Thurrock Council did not respond to a request for a comment.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter