WOMEN in Leigh are getting a raw deal when it comes to being paid the living wage, it has been revealed.

New figures released by the TUC, based on analysis of official figures from the House of Commons Library, show that more than 40 per cent of working women in Leigh are being paid less than the recommended £7.65 an hour to cover basic living costs.

On average 21 per cent of north west workers are paid below the living wage - and in Leigh the figure stands at 31.6 per cent for all workers and 40.4 per cent for women - making the town the fifth worst black spot in the region.

Leigh MP Andy Burnham said: "These figures don't surprise me. I am disappointed by them and it makes me determined to fight for companies to pay the living wage.

"The number of women not getting the living wage is way too high and I think that reflects the nature of jobs that women do. It doesn't build strong families when people are being treated in this way.

"There are also a lot of people on zero-hour contracts and working part-time that have little or no job security and are forced to live week to week.

"The number of people employed in Leigh has held up but this doesn't account for the people who are being paid low wages, have been forced into part-time work or young people who are working for free. These people are being exploited and that needs to change."

Wigan Council began paying all of its low-paid employees a living wage in January in the hope of encouraging other businesses to follow suit.

North west TUC regional secretary Lynn Collins said: "The figures are a cause for concern, particularly those black spots that have emerged throughout the region.

"Extending the living wage is a vital way of tackling the growing problem of in-work poverty across Britain and we believe more can be done to move people out of what are essentially poverty wages. That is why this Friday we will be bringing together MPs, trade unions and local authorities in a summit on the living wage.

"Working families are experiencing the biggest pressure on their living standards since Victorian times. The squeeze on pay is hurting individuals and hurting families. It's also having a damaging impact on our economy."

A total of 571,000 workers across the north west are paid below the living wage, says the TUC.

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