10,000 companies support Real Living Wage – but 4.8 million workers still pay below the threshold

Research shows that the campaign has put more than £1.8 billion in extra wages into the pockets of low-income earners since the Real Living Wage campaign began 20 years ago

About 4.8 million workers are still paid under the Real Living Wage
About 4.8 million workers are still paid under the Real Living Wage

Activists for Real Living Wage announced today that they have reached the milestone of 10,000 companies that have agreed to pay their employees higher wages.

Research shows the action has put more than £1.8 billion in extra wages into the pockets of low-paid grafters since the crusade began 20 years ago.

But as the campaign enters its third decade, some 4.8 million workers – one in six – are still being paid under the Real Living Wage as families battle the cost of living crisis.

Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “Reaching 10,000 Living Wage Employers is a historic milestone for the Living Wage movement.

“Since the campaign’s inception 20 years ago, subsistence level accreditation has become a benchmark for responsible business in the UK, shaping the debate on low pay and transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the country with wages that offer dignity.

One in three has no idea what bills they pay each month


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“With inflation hitting new highs, the living wage movement is more important than ever.

“We are facing the worst wage squeeze on record, and no one will feel it more than the nearly five million people in low-paying and insecure jobs who are already struggling on tight budgets.

“It is critical that employers who can afford it protect those who will be hit hardest by price increases by paying a wage that is in line with the cost of living.”

Welcoming the 10,000th milestone, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said: “This is an important milestone – every worker should be paid a decent wage to build a life on.

“But millions have jobs that don’t pay bills or put food on the table, and successive Conservative governments have overseen a decade of wage freezes and Social Security cuts, leaving millions at the mercy of soaring bills and prices.

“With Britain in the midst of a cost of living crisis, it’s time for the government to act.”

The voluntary rate, paid by organizations accredited to the Living Wage Foundation, is £9.90 per hour, rising to £11.05 in London where costs are higher.

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Analysts calculate levels by factoring in expenses like housing, travel and healthy eating, as well as extras like birthday gifts for children.

By contrast, the statutory minimum rate for the over 25s in the UK is £9.50 through the National Living Wage.

Almost 350,000 employees work for organizations accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

The movement has pumped an extra £1.8 billion in extra wages into workers’ wallets since 2002, according to a study by Cardiff Business School.

Recent organizations to accredit to the Foundation include Greater Manchester social welfare charity The Fed and the Royal Albert Hall.

Craig Hassall, Chief Executive of The Hall said: “We know that employees who feel supported in their work provide the best experience for our customers and visitors to the Hall and paying the London Living Wage is a way for us to to show our employees that we really appreciate them.”

Fed chief Mark Cunningham said: “We believe, certainly from the work of the last two years during a pandemic, that the people who work in social care are heroes all the time.

“It’s a tough job, it’s a great job – and we wanted to make sure we were up there with other employers in Greater Manchester when it came to paying the Real Living Wage.”

The Department for Enterprise, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been asked for comment.

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