ONE in four people working in Dorset earns less than the living wage, it has been revealed.

In West Dorset the figure is nearly 21 per cent and Weymouth and Portland is the worst-off area, with nearly 29 per cent of workers earning less than £7.65 per hour.

In north Dorset the figure is just under 25 per cent.

The Trades Union Council has analysed official figures from the House of Commons library.

The Living Wage for Dorset Campaign has operated for the past two years and is lobbying councils and businesses in the county to increase wages for the lowest-paid workers.

Discussing the figures, Neil Duncan-Jordan, LWD campaign chairman, said: “We have an agricultural sector, we have a large social care sector, and we have a large hospitality, hotel and leisure sector.

“Those are all predominantly low paid.”

Mr Duncan-Jordan said the campaign was targeted predominantly at high street names and businesses people have heard of.

The campaign recently lobbied Dorset County Council to pay all employees £7.65 an hour.

Councillors decided to wait for a national review to take place before considering implementation of the scheme.

The latest figures have been released to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the minimum wage, as well as TUC’s Fair Pay Fortnight, which ends on Sunday.

Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the South West TUC, said: “Working families are experiencing the biggest pressure on their living standards since Victorian times.

“Pay has been squeezed at all levels below the boardroom and it’s costing the South West’s economy dear.”

Union members took to the steps of County Hall in Dorchester on Tuesday in a protest over public sector pay proposals.

Representatives of Unison and Unite unions greeted workers as they arrived at the building with a giant placard featuring Prime Minister David Cameron in a jester’s outfit.

The protest centred around the proposed one per cent pay rise for the public sector, which they claim is a cut in real terms, and the placard carried the strap line: “Don’t take us for April fools.”

Stella Crew from Unison said more than two thirds of local government workers earned less than the government’s ‘low pay threshold’ of £21,000 a year, while half a million earned less than the living wage.