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Cost of Living Copy

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Why is this important?

Characteristics of the city’s economy mean that the rising cost of living is likely to put pressure on at least 77% (November 2022) of employees who earn below the national median and may impact their ability to maintain their employment due to associated costs. 

There will be employees in all salary ranges that may experience difficulties, this can negatively impact on employers as people may lose focus at work or seek other employment to improve income.


Characteristics of Plymouth’s economy combine into a unique situation. 

  • The city has some of the lowest wages and wage growth of the Key Cities and top manufacturing cities.

  • Almost 60% of jobs are in sectors that have low levels of flexible working

  • The sectors are highly gendered with women predominantly in public sector, education and health and men predominantly in manufacturing

  • A very high proportion of women work part time and below the Real Living Wage

  • Over 60% of jobs are in physically demanding sectors

  • A very low business density  

The cost of living has risen steeply and is predicted to rise even more steeply over the winter. Energy prices are predicted on average to increase by £1500 from October 2022 and higher from January 2023. (There maybe Government intervention). Price rises, and energy prices are expected to affect a majority of the population.

Coupled with the ongoing rise in inflation and mortgage rates every family will feel the impact, their employers will also have the same challenges.

"77% (November 2022) of employees who earn below the national median may impact their ability to maintain their employment due to associated costs."

The problem

Although Plymouth’s population is relatively young, with high numbers of part time workers and relatively high economic activity, the flexibility that these things should bring in times of economic downturn are constrained. The characteristics described in the Background section above mean that Plymouth has high proportions of working age people with health conditions (principally mental health and Musculo-skeletal challenges) and high proportions of people (predominantly women) looking after the family home or working part time. 

How will this impact employers and employees?

The current circumstances present challenges and opportunities as people respond to the cost-of-living challenges:

Where to start

Target audiences for inclusivity interventions by Plymouth City Council and support agencies are as follows:

  • People with caring responsibilities

  • People with health challenges

  • Women – especially those in part-time, low-paid jobs

  • Our most disadvantaged wards – St Peter and the Waterfront, Lipson, Efford and Honicknowle. 

These are the groups for whom work opportunities in Plymouth are more restricted by their circumstances.

Effective actions for employers


Review your employees, their job roles, and their salaries. Look at employees that may have more challenges and see if there are any ways you could help e.g., additional hours, flexible working, support if they need to take additional work.

Check if your employees know about in-work benefits provided by the Department of Work and Pensions or support with childcare.

Offer tea, coffee, sometimes the smallest gestures can improve employees’ wellbeing. Everyone loves a hot drink on a cold day, one employer has offered use of a microwave, a toaster, bread, and butter to ensure their team can at least have hot toast before going on-site.

Larger companies may be able to offer voucher schemes, childcare support, or sanitary products for their female employees.

People may be grateful of access to a warm office if they are cold at home. 

Be aware of charities and community groups that can help e.g., Citizens Advice Bureau, Step Change, Entitled To and Turn to us all can give help on debt, money, or benefit advice. (See links below)

How to achieve changes

We will need innovative, cross sector approaches by businesses, experts and policy makers who are committed to finding new, better ways of supporting the residents and workforce of Plymouth.

Speak to your employees, see if they need help and think about what you can afford to do.

Engage with other community groups and Plymouth City Council to see what else is on offer.

Useful information

Current wages benchmarks

  • Median wages are £15.65 per hour Nationally and £13.09 in Plymouth (FT)

  • The National Living Wage is £9.50 per hour and due to rise to £10.32 in 2023

  • The Real Living Wage is £10.90 per hour – equivalent to £19k per year

Citizens Advice National Data Dashboard 

Cost calculators are provided by MoneySavingsExpert.   

Real Living Wage Foundation employer case studies about responses to cost of living rises 

Low Pay commission report about non-wage benefits

Other sources of help

We have a unique position in Plymouth with the Plymouth Charter and its 250+ signatories who are “committed to a fairer, greener future for Plymouth”. Engagement with them to date demonstrates their proactive approaches to being supportive employers. The Plymouth Charter

Useful Links

Home - (

StepChange Debt Charity - Free Expert Debt Advice.

Benefits Calculator - entitled to - independent | accurate | reliable

Turn2us Benefits Calculator

Universal Credit: information for employers - GOV.UK (

Help paying for childcare: Childcare you can get help paying for - GOV.UK (

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