WAGES in Barnsley have dropped in real terms over the last 12 months despite inflation soaring, new figures have revealed.

Office for National Statistics figures show the monthly median pay for employees in the town sat at £2,022 last month - up from £2,003 the month before.

Monthly pay across the borough has risen by eight per cent in the last year as the cost-of-living crisis continues in the winter months.

But the Consumer Prices Index inflation accounting for owner occupier’s housing costs (CPIH) - which the ONS uses to calculate real-terms pay - sat at 9.6 per cent in the year to October, the highest since records began in 1989.

It means that people’s pay packets in Barnsley are not going as far as they used to, despite the rise in salary.

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Across the UK, real-terms pay between August and October fell by 2.7 per cent compared to the same period the year before - slightly above the record three per cent drop seen between April and June.

The Trades Union Congress said working people ‘have been pushed to breaking point’ and urged the government to engage in meaningful pay talks with unions.

Ben Harrison, director at the Work Foundation, said workers face ‘stark challenges’ because of inflationary pressures on their pay packets and are being forced to make difficult decisions, including whether to turn the heating on as freezing temperatures bite.

The ONS figures also show strike action led to 417,000 days of work being lost in October across the UK - the highest level in a decade.

The planned strikes in December and January include many public sector employees, such as teachers, ambulance staff, and nurses, while firefighters and fire control staff are also voting on strike action.

The ONS data revealed a widening gap between private and public sector pay across the country, growing by 6.9 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively - among the biggest differences seen on record.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary at the Trades Union Congress, said ministers must increase pay packets immediately, starting with a pay rise for public sector workers to match the cost of living.

Ms O’Grady said: “The Prime Minister should stop attacking working people trying to defend their pay, and sit down to negotiate fair pay rises with unions.

“For too long, ministers have been stonewalling negotiations and hiding behind pay review bodies.

“They are more interested in playing political football with disputes than resolving them.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said high inflation and Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine continue ‘to plague economies around the world’.

He added: “To get the British economy back on track, we have a plan which will help to more than halve inflation next year - but that requires some difficult decisions now.

“Any action that risks embedding high prices into our economy will only prolong the pain for everyone, and stunt any prospect of long-term economic growth.

“We are committed to helping people back into work, and helping those in employment to raise their incomes, progress in work, and become financially independent.”