Is your pay rising in line with inflation?

Reports suggest that average pay rose above inflation in recent months. Yet many people are not seeing above inflation pay increases, with male-dominated professions benefiting most.

Folder with label saying 'salaries'


Have you had an above inflation pay rise this year? From the reports in the papers this week based on Office for National Statistics reports, you’d think most people had. They report that average weekly earnings in the three months to August were up 8.1% compared with the same period last year, slowing from 8.5% in the three months to July – higher than average inflation over the same three months.

Yet I don’t know anyone who has had an 8.1% rise and our survey suggests most people are not getting big pay increases. The survey took place over the summer and only a fifth (22%) said their pay had risen in line with or more than inflation, with 41% saying they haven’t had a pay rise and 37% stating they had a rise that was less than inflation. So there is clearly a division opening up between those generally in larger companies and organisations whose wages are keeping up with inflation and those whose wages aren’t. And of course, it seems to be the sectors where men predominate which have seen the biggest rises – financial services and manufacturing. And those working in the private sector had bigger rises than those in the public sector where the average rise was  6.8% between June and August,with different parts of the public sector seeing different pay increases.

Once again, the playing field seems skewed in favour of men and ‘average’ hides a multitude of complexity under the surface. Yet women often have the main responsibility for looking after children and 90% of single parents are women. Even before the pandemic, the Trussell Trust was reporting that single parent households were almost two times more prevalent in foodbanks than in the general population. We know that many are skipping meals to prioritise their children.

Yet to the lack of better paid, flexible jobs many single parents are stuck in low-paying, often insecure jobs, trying to work around escalating childcare prices, and the push to return full time to the office won’t help. Logistics is a major hurdle to many working parents. Sometimes small things make all the difference. Flexi starts, for instance. I remember my friend who was a single mum rushing to get the bus after dropping off her kids at school and constantly arriving two minutes late for a meeting which could easily have been shifted by 10 minutes so she didn’t arrive stressed out and feeling undermined.

I was at an event for women in tech this week and there was a brilliant talk about equity, about the need to truly understand what the barriers are. When people who don’t face them truly wake up to what it’s like for those who do, maybe things will change. But as the speaker said, it’s not just about awareness; it’s about caring about equity. Some employers – and some politicians – get it, but many more seem to exist in a bubble.

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