Probably the data byline I am happiest with so far – it was pretty fun to come out with an opposite conclusion to what I expected coming into it. I was sure it would upset some teachers but I was pretty careful with my numbers and, I think, fair to both MPs and teachers in how I analysed it. A few people criticised me in the comments for not including the amount of hours that teachers work during the holiday compared to MPs. But just to re-emphasise what I said in the article:
It was not clear in the Hansard Society research how much MPs were working during the recess but a similar survey in 1983 by SSRB found that MPs were doing a 42 hour week compared to the 69 hours they were doing while Westminster was sitting. It is also unclear how much teachers are working during their 13-week break.
It’s funny – you may think that this is definitely a QTWTAIN but, as ever when working with data, you are often surprised. Who knew that in every year after its first birthday, with the Labour government in charge, the minimum wage rose above inflation? The lowest pay rate possible dropped below the inflation rate in 2009, the year after the financial crisis and has trudged along behind it ever since. The new wage will again be lower than the projected inflation rate, so when Vince Cable was announcing a rise, he was probably actually announcing a fall.
I turned this around pretty quickly after the announcement, deciding on whether we wanted CPI or RPI (the government measure has changed) and finding both the historic minimum wage rises and the historic inflation rises.
A sprint then. But when it comes to the minimum wage catching up with the cost of living – that’s going to be a marathon run.