Because more equal societies work better for everyone

The Case for a Real Living Wage

Thursday, 9 March, 2017

This is a guest blog kindly written by Lola McEvoy, Campaigns and Communications Manager at the Living Wage Foundation, which campaigns for the simple idea that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. 

In 2001 Citizens UK brought families in the East End of London together and asked them what issues were affecting their everyday lives – this diverse group, made up of people from many different communities all gave the same answer: low pay.

Sixteen years later and low pay is still a very real issue for families across the UK. One in five workers aren’t paid enough to live on, current growth trajectories suggest that low-income families will bear the brunt of the ongoing squeeze in living standard,s and with two thirds of children in poverty having a parent in work, the future looks bleak for those working in low-pay sectors. 

It’s more important than ever that employers choose to join our movement of 3,000 UK businesses who go further than the statutory minimum and pay the real Living Wage.

When we talk to workers who’ve received the real Living Wage they tell us about the huge difference it has made to their lives.

Linda is a care worker. She said the difference of a real Living Wage meant that she could afford to simply work her core hours, instead of working overtime of sometimes 50 or 60 hours a week. Because of this free time, she is able to visit her elderly Mum’s care home and give her Mum her dinner. The real Living Wage is £45 more than the minimum a week in the UK and £95 more a week in London. This makes a huge difference to people’s lives.

Rob is a Brewer in London. The recent increase to the minimum wage for over 25s doesn’t apply to young people but the real Living Wage and London Living Wage applies to everyone over 18. Working for a London Living Wage brewery means that Rob is able to save up enough money to move out of his parent’s house and start renting with friends – something he’d never have been able to do if he wasn’t paid it.

Natalie is an e-commerce manager and since her firm began paying the real Living Wage she has been able to plan for her daughter starting school without having to worry about how she’ll afford the uniform and other household necessities.

These are just a few examples of the hundreds of thousands of workers who’ve had a pay-rise as a result of the Living Wage campaign in the UK. We estimate that 150,000 workers have been given a pay-rise because they work for one of the 3,000 UK businesses who go further and accredit with the Living Wage Foundation. That figure doesn’t include all the people who are paid the Living Wage rates by businesses who don’t pay it to their contracted staff. Living Wage accreditation ensures all staff, even those who are contracted or are employed through a third party are paid at least the real Living Wage.

The Living Wage Foundation is the organisation at the heart of the Living Wage movement, we advise and accredit employers who want to go further and pay their staff enough to live on. Our employers join us because they know a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay but on top of this, many of them talk of significant business benefits from higher wages for low-paid staff. These include; higher retention rates, more motivated staff and big brand benefits – it seems paying decent wages makes business sense too. 

There is a lot of confusion about the real Living Wage – What is it? Who pays it? How is it calculated? We at the Living Wage Foundation have created a table for you to share on social media to explain the difference between all the wage rates in the UK and a video explaining the difference a real Living Wage makes to people’s lives. Please do share these and spread the word about the need, benefits and difference the real Living Wage makes to people’s lives. The Living Wage badge is the mark of a responsible employer who chooses to pay their staff a wage that meets the real cost of living: a real Living Wage.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Equality Trust.​

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