Big increases in rents are hitting lower paid workers across the South East as wages fall behind.

The warning has come from the GMB general trade union in the United Kingdom which has more than 631,000 members. Its members work in nearly all industrial sectors, in retail, security, schools, distribution and the utilities, social care, the NHS and ambulance service and local government.

A spokesman for the union said: "Policy mistakes have made the housing position for lower paid workers worse. Council homes for rents at reasonable levels were aimed at housing the families of workers on lower pay grades and did it successfully for generations.

"These were sold off. The chickens are now coming home to roost on these policy mistakes. There is a massive shortage of reasonable rents for workers on lower pay grades."

In Slough the average rent for a two bedroomed house is now £995 a month - a rise of 25.2 per cent since 2011. Percentage earnings have only increased by 7.3 per cent during that time.

In South Bucks

In Windsor and Maidenhead the monthly rent for a similar home is £1,200 - a rise of £14.8 per cent over the last eight years, during which time earnings have only increased by 4.2 per cent.

In affluent South Bucks monthly rents are an eye watering £1,150 - up by 27.8 per cent since 2011 while wages have only risen by £1.3 per cent.

The union warns: "These high rents are here to stay. So too are younger workers living for longer in private sector rental accommodation. Employers must be prepared to pay much higher wages to staff."