Living Wage Week kicked off today with the revelation of how much workers need to earn before they they can provide the basics of life for themselves and their families without having to rely on their pay being topped up by in-work benefits.
The “living wage” rate is announced each November by the Living Wage Foundation. The new rates announced this morning are:
· £7.85 an hour outside London – 20p an hour more than last year;
· £9.15 an hour in London – an increase of 35p an hour which recognised the higher cost of living in the UK capital.
The rate across the UK is calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, while the London rate is set by the Greater London Authority.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said that the increase, “will be welcome news for those employees who receive it, but with more than five million people in the UK officially classified as low paid there is still a long way to go.”
Some 35,000 low-paid workers employed by more than 1,000 accredited living wage employers will benefit from the new rate.
However, today also saw research released by KPMG, a Living Wage Foundation partner, which found that 5.28million UK workers are being paid less than the living wage.
Large numbers of workers in the retail, catering and care sectors, are clustered around minimum wage pay levels.
Mr Prentis noted that, “the living wage pays just enough to provide a life for workers and their families, but existing and living are two very different things.
“Public sector employers should be leading the way, but sadly there is still a long way to go, with hundreds of thousands of public service workers still condemned to poverty wages.
“Ending poverty pay would mean an end to the vicious circle of taxpayers being forced to subsidize employers by paying for in-work benefits.”
This week is Living Wage Week, described by the Living Wage Foundation as “a UK-wide celebration of the living wage and living wage employers” and “a great opportunity to raise awareness of the living wage and the living wage employer mark.”