At the launch of Living Wage Week 2018, London Mayor Sadiq Khan calls on employers across the UK to commit to paying fair wages, as the cost of living continues to increase
People employed by a Living Wage accredited employer can expect an increase in their pay packets, as the Living Wage minimum increases to £9 an hour, and £10.55 in London - an increase of 25 pence and 35 pence respectively. Taking to the stage at the Barbican today, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announces the new rates set by the Living Wage Foundation.
While Living Wage Week is a celebration of Living Wage employers, the speakers make it clear that there is more work to be done.
“Today, I am calling on all of London’s great institutions in the public and private sector to follow suit and start paying their workforce the London Living Wage,” the London Mayor tells the audience gathered at The Barbican, which is a Living Wage employer.
Behind the Living Wage Foundation, is the firm belief that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. The rates from the Foundation (sometimes called the ‘Real Living Wage’) are calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission, and based on the basic cost of living in the UK. This is not the same as the government’s National Living Wage, which is set at £7.83 an hour for over 25s, and is mandatory.
As of today, the Real Living Wage is £1.17 per hour more than the Government’s Living Wage rate, and £2.72 more in London. The Living Wage Foundation says that this year’s increases have been largely driven by higher transport costs, private rents, and council tax.
Unlike the National Living Wage set by the Government, the Real Living Wage is voluntary. Businesses can opt in, and commit to paying their staff the figure set by the Living Wage Foundation as a minimum.
“Unfortunately there are many employers in our city who, despite having the means to pay the Living Wage, still refuse to do so,” Sadiq Khan says.
“The companies and organisations who choose to deny their staff a fair wage miss out on a host of benefits, from better staff morale and higher productivity, to lower employee turnover, and fewer days lost to sick leave.”
Further to go
The fight for a Living Wage all started in East London in 2001, and was championed by a few individuals from Citizens UK. Now, over 4,700 employers across the UK have committed to pay the Real Living Wage, including IKEA, Aviva, and Lush. In the last year, 1,000 new employers have made the commitment, and received Living Wage accreditation.
However, the London Mayor, and many of the other speakers, explain that there is still a long way to go. Sadiq Khan says that no-one who goes to work every day should have to endure the indignity of poverty.
In a report published by KPMG yesterday, it was found that 22% of jobs in the UK are still paying less than the Real Living Wage, a figure which has increased since last year. The research also found a significant gender pay gap. While there are 2.2 million men earning less than the Living Wage, there are 3.5 million women in the same position.
Jenny Baskerville, director and co-head of inclusion, diversity and social equality at KPMG UK, says: “Given that last year’s analysis revealed a glimmer of hope, it is a huge disappointment to learn that the proportion of jobs currently paying below the real living wage is once again growing.”
She explains that the number of jobs paying below the threshold has increased by 1.2 million since 2012.
“Clearly such a sizeable challenge requires a collective societal effort. For businesses, it’s critical to look beyond the bottom line, instead focussing on non-monetary aspects like improved staff morale, rising service standards or increased productivity.”
The Living Wage Foundation wants to put a stop to the problem of low pay. Alongside Sadiq Khan’s call to London employers, the group is now calling on all major employers in the UK to make a commitment to paying the Real Living Wage.
Photo: Living Wage Week event 2017, Lush Soho Studio