FIGURES released this week by the Office of National Statistics show that Torridge and West Devon workers earn the second lowest wage in the country. These figures have been highlighted by Torridge and West Devon Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candid

FIGURES released this week by the Office of National Statistics show that Torridge and West Devon workers earn the second lowest wage in the country. These figures have been highlighted by Torridge and West Devon Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Adam Symons, from Hartland, who has focused on the need to improve skills and draw investment to the area.The data, which ranks the 643 constituencies in England, Wales and Scotland in terms of annual pay for all jobs, puts Torridge and West Devon as number 642. Only Berwick-upon-Tweed in Scotland, is lower.Torridge and West Devon employees earn an average £16,025 per year, nearly £10,000 lower than the national average of £26,020. Male employees earn over £12,000 less than their fellow average Britons and female employees over £6,000 less.Mr Symons said: The figures say it all, our workers are pounds from being the lowest earners. We are the area with the lowest wages in the whole country and we are not improving. While bottom-placed Berwick increased wages by nearly 14%, wages in Torridge and West Devon dropped by 0.8%. I am disappointed, but committed to help change this."We know that this is a reflection of the type of employment in the area, heavily dependent on agriculture and tourism. However, I am desperate to see that we improve the quality and range of employment. The County and District Councils are aware of this problem, and all of them, especially Devon County Council, are investing in a range of projects to encourage regeneration, and raise wages. The Bideford Regeneration Initiative is an important part of bringing investment into Torridge."I don't think this problem is going to be dealt with overnight. We really need to invest in the skills of our young people, and give them the aspirations to set up businesses and add to the economy of our area. The significant investment in Bideford College and North Devon College will help. We need to invest in higher education specifically suited to the economic needs and profile of our area. I have a great deal of optimism, so let us play to our strengths!