We might be entering the 12th straight month of falling real wages, but the end of the squeeze in living standards that followed the Brexit vote is finally in sight. Inflation dipped to 2.7 per cent in February from 3 per cent in January. Wages, according to official figures, grew by 2.6 per cent in the three months to January. The crossover point is close and that’s to be welcomed.
It doesn’t change the fact that working age Britons are significantly poorer now than they were this time last year, and poorer than they were decade ago when the financial crisis kicked off a brutal recession.
It bears repeating that the Conservative Party’s economically illiterate approach to Brexit has played a major role in the recent decline in living standards. It hangs like a black cloud over everything.
People like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg care more for their ideological fantasies than they do the people who put them into power, and they’re wealthy enough that they won’t feel the damaging effects of them. They’re the living embodiment of what would have happened to Dickens’ Christmas Carol had Marley’s ghost stayed home with his feet in front of the fire.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that even if wages do rise above inflation it will take years for ordinary Britons to claw back what they have lost in the midst of years of economic uncertainty that could easily put the process back into reverse.
There was more fall out from the squeeze as yet another weakie retailer admitted it was looking down the barrel of a gun and might have to point one at its landlords and creditors to keep the show on the road.
Carpetright is mulling a company voluntary agreement in an attempt close failing stores and cut the rent bill on those that remain, in the hopes of clearing some of the mud that has been walked into the business. In so doing it joins New Look, Prezzo, Jamie’s Italian and more besides.
At this rate they’ll soon have enough alongside them to enter a team at the bottom of the Football League’s pyramid. Anyone fancy a trip to see CVA City? The first match is a friendly against the Liquidation Lions, captained by Carillon, with Toys ‘R’ Us angling for the job of striker.
This is how the squeeze has hurt an economy struggling at the back of the OECD pack, where it will likely remain unless some sanity is restored to Westminster.
So don’t count on any improvement.
With the promise of 6 per cent plus pay rise over three years funded by the Treasury, there might just be some NHS workers left to help salve the Brexit boil festering in the nation’s heart. There is at least that.
However, the slim pickings reaped by other workers in both the public and the private sectors needs to be addressed if the people living in this country are to regain what their Government has lost them.
The TUC says this represents a long term problem. It needs to be addressed by some long term thinking. Sadly, there’s precious little sign of brains being engaged where it counts.