"What does the Prime Minister have to say to women across the country who are working full time and whose disposable incomes have fallen by an average of almost £2,500 since his Government came into office?"
Stephen Doughty MP at Prime Minister's Questions, 11 December 2013
Gloria de Piero MP in the Telegraph, 6 December 2013
Even with a growing number of economic indicators turning in the government's favour, the cost of living remains an area of concern. If a £1,600 'bombshell' drop in real wages wasn't enough to stomach, it's also been pointed out that women's take-home pay has suffered since the Coalition came to office.
The claims actually aren't about 'disposable' income - the amount people earn after most taxes and benefits - at all. As Gloria de Piero's office confirmed to us, Labour's line is actually that women's wages are rising slower than prices.
Back in 2010, men earned the equivalent of £28,300 in today's money (if we use the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation that Labour is using). Women earned the equivalent of £23,500. So men are £2,300 worse off in terms of earnings and women £2,500 worse off, as was being alluded to in the Commons this week.
As we've mentioned previously, however, a lot depends on the measure of inflation chosen, and Labour have used one which results in a relatively large decline. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) - which is similar to RPI but doesn't include things like housing costs - shows women's 'real' earnings have fallen £2,000 since the election.
It's also a decline that predates the election. Real wages have been falling for both men and women since the start of 2008 - so the Coalition isn't alone in presiding over a real terms fall in wages. It's been happening fairly consistently for the past five years.
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