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The extent of the challenges facing the UK economy were set in perspective with the news that take home pay for the average British household fell last year for the first time since 1981.

The fall, which is just the sixth registered in the 60 years since records began, has been blamed on the failure of increases in wages to keep pace with rises in prices.

The consensus view is that 2011 will be no better for consumers. It is estimated that the slide in household incomes will accelerate to as much as 2.0% before levelling out in 2012.

The sluggish rate of the UK’s recovery, stagnating wage deals and the constant upward pressures on global commodity prices have combined to produce what are effective pay cuts for many British employees.

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