PAY has plunged in Southampton since the coalition government came to power, a new analysis shows – leaving workers almost £38-a-week worse off.

Wage packets have failed to keep pace with higher-than expected inflation, says the study.

The statistics show that average weekly pay, before tax, in Southampton was £431.70 last year, the most recent available figure.

But – if earnings had risen in line with inflation since 2010 – that figure would have stood at £469.55, a difference of £37.85, or 8.1 per cent.

The pain has been even greater on the Isle of Wight, where average 2013 pay of £319.20 is £61.05 lower (16.1 per cent), when adjusted for three years of inflation.

Workers across the rest of Hampshire – where pay is down £27.17, or six per cent, to £423.20 – have also taken a heavy hit.

The analysis was carried out for Tom Blenkinsop, a Labour MP in the North-East, who blamed years of pay freezes – or near freezes – for many workers.

In addition, there has been an explosion in part-time working and zero hours contracts, which has further cut the amount staff are taking home.

Mr Blenkinsop said: “People are not working as much as they want to, nor earning as much as they need to “The effects can be seen in working people going to foodbanks and in people turning the heating off so they can eat.

“The increase in food sales at Aldi and Lidl shows it isn’t just the working classes who have reduced purchasing power on the High Street for the weekly food shop.”

The plunge in pay was calculated by adding three years of CPI inflation – adding up to 10.25 per cent, said the MP – to official 2010 earnings figures.

This amount was then compared to the most recent pay figures, for 2013.

Last month, David Cameron attempted to hit back at Labour’s “cost of living crisis” attack, by arguing take-home pay is rising for all but the top ten per cent of earners.

However, No. 10’s figures were widely criticised for including cuts in income tax, while excluding changes to child benefit and tax credits and the boom in self-employment.

And the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank has warned living standards are unlikely to reach their pre-recession levels before next year’s general election.

The IFS said: “Average living standards have fallen dramatically since the recession. This fall in average incomes has largely been driven by declines in real earnings.”