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Construction workers £1k worse off as 5% inflation bites

Construction workers are more than £1,100 worse off than last year due to faltering pay rises and soaring inflation, new research shows.

Figures released by job vacancies website CareerStructure.com revealed that the average salary for construction jobs in Britain stood at £32,800, compared to £32,350 in 2010.

But with CPI annual inflation figures hitting 5.0 per cent in October, those employed in the building world are in fact £1,164 worse off in real terms than last year, according to the annual survey of more than 5,100 workers.

While the overall median salary in the UK increased by 2.6 per cent last year, construction salaries lagged behind with just a 1.4 per cent rise. And more than one tenth of respondents (13 per cent) experienced a fall in earnings.

Jobseekers can also expect their salary to fall by as much as 5 per cent if they switch companies in today’s market, the report said.

And Britain and Ireland emerged the worst countries for generous benefits packages - more than two thirds of those working in the UK (43 per cent) received no benefits package at all, compared to just 18 per cent of those working overseas.

A UCATT spokesman said: “Construction workers are bearing the brunt of the government’s policies. Unless real investment is made in the construction industry then very difficult times are going to continue.”

Peter O’Connell, policy manager at the Federation of Master Builders described the findings as ‘depressingly familiar’.

“Unfortunately there seems little chance of wage increases keeping up with inflation until inflation is brought back under control and until consumer confidence has returned to the market. As a result it is a grim picture for the industry in the short to medium term as firms need the recovery to gain pace before they can do more to reward valued employees.”

He added: “Our own research has shown that nearly 49 per cent of our members had lost business because a bank had refused funding to a client for a project that otherwise would have gone ahead.

“If the government is serious about getting the economy going its latest round of initiatives on lending and spending must deliver for the construction sector and quickly if our standards of living are not to fall still further.”

Rob Searle, commercial director at CareerStructure.com described times as ‘extremely difficult’ but added there were some encouraging signs for the future.

“Proposed government investment in infrastructure, for example, will do much to unlock the sector and there will still be a significant demand for skilled workers,” he said. “Although the Olympic project is nearing completion, other large projects are well underway, including Crossrail and the first of the new generation of EPR nuclear stations to be built in the UK. This latter project alone could generate as many as 5,000 new jobs.”

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