Ian Blackford's claim of worst wage growth in 200 years is True 4

Ian Blackford’s claim of worst wage growth in 200 years is True

Westminster leader Ian Blackford used his speech at the SNP’s annual conference to attack the economic and social record of the Conservatives in power at Westminster.

His speech on October 9 made a number of references to the impact Conservative policies were having on the financial health on the UK.

Ferret Fact Service | Scotlands impartial fact check project

Central to his argument was a claim about wages stalling in the last ten years of Tory government.

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it to be True.


When Ian Blackford’s claim was made the most recent figures, for July 2017, show that UK regular pay, not including bonuses, was on average £458 per week.

Going back a decade to 2007, and adjusting the figures for inflation, people were paid £471 per week.

The same is true for total pay, with the average person £19 worse off in real terms compared to 2007.

It is fair to say on this count, then, that the SNP’s Westminster leader is correct.

The second part of his claim is that we have had the slowest decade of wage growth for 200 years.

This statement comes from a report from the Resolution Foundation which was released after the Spring budget in March 2017.

The group used figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility which suggested that wages are only set to return to pre-financial crisis levels by 2022.

Their analysis claims that “real earnings are set to actually fall later this year and are only projected to return to their pre-crisis peak after the end of the OBR’s forecast period in late 2022, 15 years after the pay squeeze began.

“If the OBR forecast comes to pass, this will have been the worst decade for pay growth for 210 years.”

While the SNP politician said we have lived through the worst decade for wage growth, in fact the Resolution Foundation was referring to projections up to and beyond the end of this decade.

The think-tank used an OBR prediction that wages would not return to pre-recession levels until 2022. This would mean no wage growth from 2010-2020.

The Resolution Foundation compared the OBR spring forecast with a report from the Bank of England which looks at three centuries of economic data.

According to this, the current OBR forecast would see a ten-year average that was lower than any decade since the 1800s.

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The data used in this graph comes from a variety of sources with different methodologies and survey techniques so should be taken as an estimate rather than a definitive guide of wages through the centuries.

It is important to note that while the OBR is using the best possible data, it can be extremely difficult to make accurate predictions for inflation and the economy. That’s why forecasts are regularly revised.

In a post-Budget analysis, think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies, described a forecasted decade without real wage growth as an “astonishing and unprecedentedly long period without a rise in average earnings in the UK.”

Ferret Fact Service verdict: True

Ian Blackford’s claims on the UK’s stalling wages are broadly accurate. Real terms weekly earnings have not reached the level that they were at ten years ago, according to official figures.

The second half of his claim is harder to measure, but the best available figures appear to show that it is more than 200 years since wage growth was so low.

This claim is True

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, working to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Want to suggest a fact check? Email us at factcheck@theferret.scot or join our community forum.

In response to an FFS evidence request, the SNP provided links to ONS data and the Resolution Foundation report.

Photo thanks to BagoGames, CC BY-SA 2.0


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