Hundreds fewer workers were on company payrolls in Redditch last month than before the coronavirus pandemic, new figures show.

It comes as official figures show employees across the UK have seen the steepest fall in real wages for more than seven years, after earnings failed to keep up with price hikes.

Office for National Statistics figures show 41,059 people in Redditch were on company payrolls in February.

This was down from 41,294 in February 2020, before the pandemic, but 1,376 more than in the same month last year, when 39,683 people were on payrolls.

The number of workers on UK payrolls increased by 275,000 month-on-month, to 29.7 million.

Different ONS figures show average earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by 3.8% in the three months to January.

But they failed to keep up with price increases due to record inflation that month, meaning they fell by 1% in real terms – the steepest decline seen since July 2014.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak acknowledged concerns over the rising cost of living ahead of his spring statement on March 23, but said the labour market is in a strong position.

Mr Sunak said: "I am confident that our labour market is in a good position to deal with the current global challenges, with payrolled employee numbers above pre-pandemic levels in every nation and region and redundancies at record lows."

However, the Government has faced criticism over the level of support it has offered.

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said working people deserve financial security and a wage they can live on.

"The Government must use the spring statement to act," Mrs O'Grady added.

"We need a plan to get wages rising in all jobs, a boost to Universal Credit, and a windfall tax on oil and gas profits – with the money raised going to energy grants for hard-pressed families."