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‘Cost of living crisis’ in Camden as wages fall by 31 per cent in real terms over last five years

Cllr Theo Blackwell joins council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward in calling for the government to take action against the cost of living crisis. Picture: Nigel Sutton. Cllr Theo Blackwell joins council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward in calling for the government to take action against the cost of living crisis. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Thursday, January 2, 2014
12:00 PM

Camden residents are facing a cost of living crisis as earnings fall by the second highest amount in the country over the last five years.

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Council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward is shocked but not surprised by the survey's findingsCouncil leader Cllr Sarah Hayward is shocked but not surprised by the survey's findings

Annual earnings have fallen by around 31 per cent since April 2008 when taking into account the rate of inflation, a study has shown.

Actual wages have fallen by almost £7,000, or 12.9 per cent.

This places Camden second after Hammersmith and Fulham in the list of places worst affected by the national drop in wages.

The figures have jolted Camden Council into calling on the government to take imminent action to reduce the high cost of living in central London.

Leader of the council, Labour councillor Sarah Hayward, said the figures were “shocking but not surprising”.

“There’s a cost of living crisis and nowhere is that felt more acutely than in Camden and central London,” she said. “We know that childcare costs, in particular, are forcing people to work fewer hours or not at all and this will bring down wages.

“Camden is doing what we can, by funding childcare, working with the private rented sector and more, but the government needs to act both on wages and the cost of living.”

The average wage of people living in Camden has dropped from around £52,000 a year to £45,000, the report by trade union GMB revealed.

Residents in neighbouring borough Haringey were not much better off – where annual earnings fell by around 27 per cent since 2008.

Camden cabinet member for finance Cllr Theo Blackwell says Camden is becoming “unaffordable for Londoners”.

He said: “We know low-paid workers in Camden are finding life increasingly hard. But this is now stretching far into ‘middle Camden’ because of the quadruple-whammy high rents, transport, energy and childcare costs.

“This is particularly galling because we also see some parts of the borough unaffected by this, with spiralling housing prices and the super-gentrification of neighbourhoods in a short space of time.”

Camden residents have seen a considerable drop in earnings compared to the national average fall in wages of 14 per cent.

Both Camden cabinet members said that the GMB’s survey reflected the council’s own findings in its equalities taskforce report published in May.

This recommended that employers should increase work opportunities for mothers and that the government should increase youth employment, education and training.

Cllr Blackwell says the council is doing what it can to improve the cost-of-living situation for Camden’s residents but there is a limit to the local authority’s powers.

“We need to take action on inner London private rents, which are insane with so many people spending more than 50 per cent of their income on rents and bills,” he said.

“We need national legislation and more than words from the Mayor of London to pressure Whitehall to take concrete measures to reduce high rents, through rent controls and help build housing at affordable rents.”

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