LONDON: British employers plan to increase pay at the weakest rate since 2013, a survey showed on Monday, offering poor prospects for British households already strained by higher inflation since last year’s Brexit vote.
Employers on average expected to raise basic pay awards in the year ahead by 1 percent, down from 1.5 percent in the previous quarter’s survey, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said.
Last week, Bank of England (BoE) Gov. Mark Carney warned that households faced a challenging time, as wage growth was set to turn negative in inflation-adjusted terms.
Rising inflation, fueled by rising energy costs and the pound’s post-Brexit vote plunge, almost completely canceled out the growth in the pay of British workers during the three months to February, official data showed last month.
Living standards are a hot political topic ahead of a June 8 national election. While the BoE’s expectation for solid economic growth in the next few years hinges on wage growth picking up significantly, the CIPD survey showed no sign that employers are thinking about ratcheting up pay as yet.
Gerwyn Davies, labor market adviser at the CIPD, said weak pay partly reflected British businesses’ long-standing difficulties at raising productivity. He said he expected living standards would fall for many employees this year.
“This could create higher levels of economic insecurity and could have serious implications for consumer spending, which has helped to support economic growth in recent months.”
Other indicators of future wage growth, like the monthly REC survey and the BoE’s regional agents’ report, have pointed to a dearth of upward pressure on pay.
The government capped annual basic pay rises for most public-sector workers at 1 percent in 2013, after a three-year pay freeze.
The CIPD said pay expectations for the private sector held steady at 2 percent, but weakened in the voluntary sector and were stuck at 1 percent in the public sector.
Still, the survey suggested employment would continue to increase in the second quarter, albeit at a slower rate than at the start of this year.
Official monthly labor market data are due on Wednesday. Economists polled by Reuters expect growth in average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, held steady at 2.2 percent in the three months to March.